A vision for the future of industrial land which once provided employment for hundreds of workers in Northumberland is set to be unveiled in spring 2016.
Harworth Estates has been working on a masterplan for the former aluminium smelter in Lynemouth since it purchased the 320 acre site from Rio Tinto Alcan in April 2015. In spring 2016 the company intends to consult with local residents and other interested parties on a draft masterplan which will focus on Harworth Estates’ plan to bring employment uses back to the site.
In parallel with masterplanning future development, Harworth Estates has also been carrying out the early stages of redevelopment including the demolition of some existing buildings. The company has also agreed a long term deal to secure the future of one of its first new tenants, with 80 people already employed on the site.
Eddie Peat, Director of Natural Resources at Harworth Estates, said: “This is a hugely significant site for the North East which has great potential for commercial development. The process to prepare the site is progressing well but we are taking time and care with our masterplanning to provide the best possible chance of attracting investment and providing new jobs for the region.”
A key aspect of Harworth Estates’ early planning process has involved determining which of the existing buildings on the site can remain for future use. The company confirms the eight chimney stacks which tower over the site will be demolished at some point in 2016.
One of the buildings that will remain is the former aluminium casting plant which is now home to Lynx Precast, specialists in the design, manufacture and installation of precast concrete flooring systems for the UK construction industry.
“We have agreed a 20 year lease with Lynx Precast which has provided the company with the long term certainty it needs to invest in new plant and equipment, creating 28 jobs in the process,” explained Mr Peat. “We’ve also seen the concrete manufacturer H Mix invest more than £600,000 in the construction of a new building from which it will supply Lynx Precast. H Mix has also taken a 20 year lease agreement with us.”
Bathroom pod manufacturer Aartoft is operating on the site in what was previously the smelter’s garage building. Between the three tenants, site security, maintenance and the demolition team there are currently approximately 80 people working on the site. Harworth Estates believes this progress shows the potential the site has to deliver future employment to the region.
“With its direct rail link to the Port of Blyth and the existing power infrastructure, we believe the site lends itself very well to a portfolio of small to medium sized businesses from a wide range of industrial and commercial sectors,” Mr Peat continued. “We’ve already conducted some informal consultation with residents which has been extremely well received and we look forward to much more engagement in the months ahead when we will share our plans in full with the local community.”
Ian Lavery, Member of Parliament for Wansbeck, said he was optimistic about Harworth Estates’ plans, commenting: “For more than 40 years this site provided high quality, well-paid jobs for hundreds of hard-working people. The buildings themselves were familiar features of our industrial skyline. The closure of the site was devastating but having met with Harworth Estates I am confident that better days are ahead and I look forward to welcoming new businesses to this vital corner of our economy.”
Northumberland county councillor Liz Simpson represents Newbiggin Central and East and she convened a recent meeting with Harworth Estates for Woodhorn Village residents: “It was very reassuring to hear this major piece of industrial land has passed into good hands. Residents were interested to learn more about Harworth Estates and to gain an early understanding of the plans for the site.”
Harworth Estates is also redeveloping land in other parts of the North East, including at Ellington where it received planning consent in June for up to 400 homes, a new convenience retail store and two full-sized football pitches.