Old pit sites could give way to new housing

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MAJOR house building projects on former colliery sites at Ellington and Lynemouth could rejuvenate the communities, councillors have been told.

Members of the county council’s South East Planning Committee unanimously backed outline plans by UK Coal’s development arm to build a total of 500 houses on the sites over several years. Neither application attracted a single objection.

Council principal planning officer John Dowsett reported: “The proposed development will provide the opportunity of local employment to replace that lost by the closure of the collieries at Ellington and Lynemouth in 2005 and be of a significant benefit to the local economy by providing an additional critical mass of population to support local services and facilities.”

At Lynemouth, Harworth Estates proposes 200 houses on 64 acres to subsidise the opening up of the employment land.

An independently-verified study has concluded that insisting on any affordable houses at all would make the site unviable in the present economic conditions. Mr Dowsett said Lynemouth – built to house pit workers — did not have a great need for affordable homes.

But in the case of both sites, provision should be made to reassess the need over the years as development progressed and possibly seek affordable homes later.

Lynemouth ceased production in 1994 and was used for coal preparation by Ellington until that closed in 2005. Almost half the site would be devoted to industry.

Much would be given to open space, landscaping and ponds to prevent flooding elsewhere.

Councillors are minded to approve the 36-acre Ellington project, subject to a legal agreement to provide affordable homes and other details.

The application envisages 300 houses, of which 10 per cent would be affordable. There would be 1,855 sq m of work space in the former colliery offices and a new local centre.

This hub would include a small food supermarket and little shops as well as a community and youth centre, pocket parks and a full-size football pitch.

Ward councillor Milburn Douglas told the committee that the recently installed statue, The Ellington Miner, near the community centre was important and should stay in place.

Mr Dowsett said the authority would have to be assured about noise from new wind turbines near the Ellington site and a suspected sewage smell at Lynemouth before granting detailed planning permission.