Brighter future for former pit villages
AMBITIOUS regeneration projects totalling more than £25m have been unveiled in a masterplan aimed at giving a cluster of former Northumberland coalfield villages a brighter future.
The blueprint aims to help the neighbouring communities of Cresswell, Ellington, Lynemouth and Linton – known as the CELL partnership – revitalise themselves and shake off the bleak economic and environmental legacy of the massive rundown of coal mining.
Hundreds of new homes could be built, jobs created through a business park and workplace units, community facilities improved and the local environment given major upgrades if the package of regeneration schemes becomes a reality.
The CELL masterplan, which has been drawn up by economic consultants Roger Tym and Partners, says the 5,000 people who live in the four villages have so far missed out on the kind of housing-led regeneration going on in other former pit communities, such as Hadston, Widdrington, Ashington and Newbiggin.
The £25m-plus package of projects is spearheaded by a flagship, £20m scheme to develop a Network Village at the former Ellington Colliery, which closed almost four years ago with the loss of 340 jobs.
Up to 220 new homes would be built on the UK Coal-owned site, along with live/work units, offices, workspace and a potential community building, all networked by the latest in ICT infrastructure.
The masterplan also includes an £800,000 project to convert former office buildings at the colliery into a small business park to create jobs and stimulate the local economy.
In Lynemouth, the village’s own former colliery site could become a mixed use development with about 200 new homes and employment-generating facilities.
Linton could see £500,000 invested in refurbishing the village welfare as a community hub, while a £30,000 scheme has been devised for new parking restrictions and better traffic management in the seaside village of Cresswell.
The CELL masterplan would be delivered by a host of public and private sector agencies, including local councils, UK Coal, private housebuilders, One North East, the National Lottery and local regeneration group ENRgi.
Yesterday Coun Milburn Douglas, who represents the Ellington and Lynemouth area on Castle Morpeth Council and the county council, said masterplan was an exciting vision. “This area certainly needs regeneration but new housing development is being stalled by the credit crunch at present.
“The CELL masterplan is a very important document and what we need here in Lynemouth and Ellington is better quality housing to drive the whole regeneration forward. We also need more job opportunities and better transport, because employment has been hard to find since the pits closed. I am optimistic that in the next three or four years things will take off, and I believe that in UK Coal and others we have the right people to move this process on.”
ENRgi will now work with key partners, including Northumberland’s new unitary council, to implement and deliver the action plan set out in the blueprint.