Harworth Estates has acquired the site of the former Lynemouth aluminium smelter near Newcastle-upon-Tyne from Rio Tinto.
The 320-acre Northumberland site, which is located near the coast, offers the potential for a range of future commercial development once the site has been fully masterplanned.
The acquisition of the site is Harworth’s second major non-coalfield acquisition and adds to its large portfolio of UK regeneration sites. Last November Harworth bought the 162-acre site of the former Skelton Grange power station near Leeds from RWE Generation. The company already manages more than 200 sites across the North and Midlands, totalling more than 27,000 acres.
“Our marketing of the site attracted a great deal of interest from a wide range of sectors,” said Richard Anderson, Environment Manager at Rio Tinto. “After lengthy consideration and due diligence, we decided the offer from Harworth Estates gave the best prospect of securing sustainable long-term employment on the site given their exceptional track record of successfully regenerating redundant industrial sites.”
Since agreeing the sale, Rio Tinto has completed the decommissioning of the site. The decommissioning process has been led by Rio Tinto’s own team and has involved the removal of plant and machinery, the demolition of some buildings and cleaning the site to enable the return of its operating permit to industry regulator, the Environment Agency.
Owen Michaelson, Chief Executive of Harworth Group plc said: “The Lynemouth site fits very well with the rest of our property portfolio in the north east, given we own a number of sites planned for regeneration at Butterwell, Ellington, Widdrington and a site adjacent to the smelter site. As we take the site forward to the occupier market we will be emphasising its many benefits including access via rail to the Port of Blyth.
“Our specialist team has significant experience developing large-scale brownfield sites and transforming them into places of lasting economic and social regeneration. We look forward to working closely with the local community and other partners with an interest in the prosperity of Northumberland in doing the same at Lynemouth.”
Harworth’s purchase of the Lynemouth site has been welcomed by Northumberland County Council. Councillor Allan Hepple, Policy Board Member for Planning, Housing and Regeneration said, “This is a good deal for the county and fits in with our strategic plans for economic growth. It raises the prospect of significant investment and job creation at Lynemouth. With its size, location and surrounding infrastructure the site has enormous potential for development and the county council will work closely with Harworth Estates to attract businesses that will create good quality, long-term jobs”.