New lease of life for former smelter site set for green light

The former Alcan aluminium smelter site in Lynemouth. The chimneys on the site were demolished last year.
The former Alcan aluminium smelter site in Lynemouth. The chimneys on the site were demolished last year.

Plans for a large employment park on the former Alcan aluminium smelter site in Lynemouth look set to get the go-ahead next week.

The outline application, by the Harworth Group, is for the 121,000 sq m Lynefield Park, which would provide a ‘flexible mix of employment floorspace’ and a retail element, is recommended for approval at Tuesday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee.

If approved, it is anticipated that the engineering works to create the development platforms would be undertaken and completed over a four-year period to allow detailed proposals to come forward as each platform is created.

Aluminium production ended in March 2012, and the Harworth Group took over the 320-acre site from Rio Tinto Alcan in April 2015.

A planning statement by Barton Willmore, on behalf of the applicant, states: ‘Through this outline planning application, it is seeking to redevelop the site to provide a cutting-edge employment facility that will ensure the historic role of the site is not forgotten.

‘This represents a significant and exciting opportunity to preserve a regionally-renowned employment site and ensure it continues to provide jobs to future generations.

‘Given the site’s previous employment use, it already benefits from many desirable assets to attract future occupiers including existing access and servicing, a good location in proximity to key service centres and the strategic road network and the potential to use an existing rail freight link.

‘The scheme would make a significant contribution to Northumberland’s employment land provision and economic growth aspirations.’

The scheme has sparked just two objections, while Newbiggin-By-The Sea Town Council ‘welcomes the development of this major site for employment creation’.

The planning officer’s report concludes: ‘This is a significant proposal in economic development terms which would secure the long-term regeneration of a large former employment site for continued employment use with the potential for hundreds of new jobs to be created during the construction and operational phases of the development. As such the proposals are to be welcomed as they have the potential to provide a major boost to the county’s economy.’

There are a few outstanding issues relating to the likes of flooding/drainage and off-site highway works at the Ashwood roundabout, ‘but is anticipated that agreement can be reached regarding these matters’.

As it is in outline, all other matters – such as landscaping, layout, appearance and scale – are reserved for future determination.

Plans for 34 new homes in Stannington are back before councillors following the withdrawal of the county’s core strategy.

However, the proposal, for the Stannington and Birchwood Nurseries sites on Station Road, which was first given the nod in April, is recommended for approval again.

In this case, as with some dealt with last month, the approval has not been signed off due to outstanding issues and as the policies in the core strategy, which the new Conservative administration withdrew in July, were key in the initial decision, the application has returned.