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Former battery plant to get re-energised

Friday 30 November 2012 6:00

Over £38m has been earmarked for a new housing development on the site of a rundown former battery plant which closed 16 years ago and once employed over 1,000 workers.

Following the closure of the Ever Ready battery plant near Stanley in 1996 part of the site was converted into industrial units, which are currently home to a dozen manufacturing and service businesses.

The proposals by Durham-based Esh Developments will see the businesses relocated to new premises near-by and 365 new homes and a retail unit built on the 15.4 hectares site.

The development will create over 300 construction jobs and is expected to lead to the creation of dozens of new jobs in the retail outlet and by the relocated businesses, as a result of their transfer to more suitable premises.

The Newcastle office of national planning consultants Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners (NLP) submitted a planning application to Durham County Council on behalf of Esh last week.

Neil Morton, associate director at NLP, said: “The site is currently mostly vacant and viewed as a derelict, brownfield eyesore.

“The proposals will see the existing tenants relocated to Harelaw Industrial Estate for which a linked planning application will be submitted shortly.

“A major decontamination and site clean-up will then be completed and the site subsequently transformed to deliver 365 new family homes, including affordable homes.”

The development will create 315 construction jobs and deliver a £3.63m boost to the local economy.

It will attract New Homes Bonus payments to Durham County Council of almost £2.6m; and produce uplift in Council Tax revenues of more than £480,000 a year.

The proposals will also see the development of retail facility to serve both the Tanfield Business Park and the new homes.

Further benefits will involve the creation of a village green, a new-children's play area, the reinstatement of footpaths and connections, and contributions towards improvements in the local area.  NLP has met with Tanfield School to discuss how the plans could help its facilities.

NLP conducted a public consultation exercise on the proposals which received strong local support.

Almost all of those consulted wanted to the see the site cleaned up and only seven out of the 82 respondents disagreed with the redevelopment of the site for housing.

At a presentation by NLP to Stanley Town Council members said they would be in favour of the housing development provided the existing businesses were found new premises nearby.

Twelve businesses, currently employing 185 people on-site at Ever Ready, are expected to relocate to new premises, mostly at the Harelaw Industrial Estate.  Over the last 12 months, Esh Developments has held regular meetings with the tenants to be relocated and they are all supportive and wish to be relocate at the earliest opportunity.

The Harelaw Industrial Estate is less than two miles from the Ever Ready site.

One business (accounting for one job) is expected to relocate to Tursdale, near Durham City, and a further business, currently employing 10 people on-site is expected to relocate to new premises in Sunderland.

This is, however, offset by 20 new jobs in addition to the 180 retained jobs which are expected to be created by the businesses relocating to more suitable premises at Harelaw.