A £25m blueprint to regenerate four coastal villages in Castle Morpeth has finally been unveiled.
The CELL Masterplan contains a number of projects to help the communities of Cresswell, Ellington, Lynemouth and Linton thrive following years of suffering the economic and environmental impacts of the coal mining industry closures.
The flagship of the scheme is a 20m Network Village on the site of the former Ellington Colliery, owned by UK Coal, where up to 220 new homes would be built as well as 'live and work' units, workspace, offices and a potential community building, all supported by modern ICT infrastructure.
Other projects have been outlined for each village in the document by economic consultants Roger Tym and Partners and plans are in place to improve public transport facilities, community policing and leisure and art options in the whole CELL area.
There were problems in the process when parish councils and other local groups were unhappy with an earlier document, claiming their views had been ignored.
But meetings were held between their representatives and members of Castle Morpeth Council and ENRgI, which has led work on the proposals to revitalise the area, to iron out the issues.
Executive Member for the Economy, John Beynon, said: "We overcame the initial local difficulties and are now ready with the final report.
"This gives great hope to the CELL region and we are confident that it will be seen as one of the lasting legacies from the Borough Council."
Schemes are planned to be delivered by a host of public and private sector agencies, including councils, UK Coal, private house builders, One NorthEast, the National Lottery and ENRgI.
The other project for Ellington is an 820,000 'Workspace' where the former Ellington Colliery offices would be converted into a business complex to create jobs and stimulate the economy for the whole area.
Among the Lynemouth plans, 800,000 has been set aside for regeneration and a facelift to the West Market Street retail section, while the same amount is intended to be spent on the full reclamation and restoration of Lynemouth Bay.
There is also a housing renewal project for the village and a scheme to clear and regenerate the Lynemouth Colliery site for mixed use housing and employment related purposes.
The Linton Welfare could be in line for a refurbishment to the tune of 500,000, while a 300,000 project to make environmental improvements and upgrade footpaths in the village has been included.
A 30,000 traffic management and parking scheme for Cresswell would aim to prevent over-crowding and obstruction for residents and visitors during popular tourist times.
Coun Milburn Douglas, who represents the CELL area on Castle Morpeth Council and Northumberland County Council, said: "It's nice to see that this is a reality after so many years of discussion.
“The only problem we have now is the credit crunch, but I’m confident that we can come through it and it’s encouraging to have many partners including UK Coal on board.
“We are all upbeat about the Masterplan and I would like to thank the Castle Morpeth Council officers who have put in an awful amount of hard work on it.”
Borough Council member for Lynemouth and Ellington Arnold Baker also praised the work of officers through all the stages of the document and thanked parish councils in the villages for their input.
“Some people in this area had their set views on what should be included in the Masterplan, which created conflict at first, but this was because they are passionate about their community,” he added.
“This meant it took longer to get ready, but it has been worth it and the projects will bring many positive changes to Cresswell, Ellington, Lynemouth and Linton.”
ENRgI will now work with key partners to implement and deliver the action plan set out in the document.