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Grimethorpe Regeneration

Transforming a coaling mining village

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Grimethorpe Regeneration was originally a farming hamlet, five miles to the north east of Bransley in South Yorkshire. Coal mining made the village prosperous, the colliery opened in 1894.

The village then expanded dramatically following the location of the National Coal Board (NCB) area headquarters, the Coalite Coking Plant, the South Side Coal Preparation Plant and the Fluidised Bed Combustion research project. By late 1970s the building and plant dominated the skyline and Grimethorpe was regarded as a coal town. 

Background

Grimethorpe was originally a farming hamlet, five miles to the north east of Bransley in South Yorkshire. Coal mining made the village prosperous, the colliery opened in 1894.

The village then expanded dramatically following the location of the National Coal Board (NCB) area headquarters, the Coalite Coking Plant, the South Side Coal Preparation Plant and the Fluidised Bed Combustion research project. By late 1970s the building and plant dominated the skyline and Grimethorpe was regarded as a coal town. 

At its peak an estimated 6,000 people were employed in the collieries, coalite and the associated mining and related industries. In common with other coal mining areas, there was a dependence on the area for mining as its primary source of employment and the effect of this on the lives of the community.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990’s a decline in mining related services and the closure of the colliery itself in 1993 brought about rapid economic deterioration and significant out migration. It is estimated that an outward migration of 1,917 residents occurred up to 2001.

High Levels of unemployment for those remaining caused a breakdown of the local community, rising crime levels and housing became run down as residents moved from the area to seek new job opportunities.

Grimethorpe as a community was perceived badly, in addition poor transport links and lack of employment further precluded the ‘inward investment’ acting as a barrier for future job creation.

Project

In 1995 consultants were appointed by the council to produce regeneration strategy for Grimethorpe with options for public consultation.

One strategy considered was a managed decline of the settlement but the overwhelming view was the Grimethorpe should be rejuvenated. In 1996 the strategy highlighted the need for a 15 – 20 year plan to acknowledge the extent of the problems on two key areas, the colliery and the village with key short, medium and long term targets.

A critical element was to make the area more accessible, particularly to the Deane and M1 and A1M linkages.

The plan to rejuvenate the colliery included:

  • Dealing with contamination
  • Greening and short term uses
  • Safeguarding and the road line
  • Indigenous growth and starter units
  • Constructions of the road to link and Dearne Valley Enterprise Zone
  • Completion of first employment site
  • Identification of the inward investment site – the Park Springs Employment site.
  • Implementation of a marketing strategy
  • Development of the Houghton Main site

The plan to rejuvenate the village included:

  • New internal roads to open up land for new development
  • To development the private housing for sale to balance to housing mix which was dominated by social and private rented
  • Demolition and clearance of a derelict housing estate to prepare for new housing
  • A programme of improvements to the remaining housing stock to bring this up to ‘decency’ standards
  • A millennium Green to provide a central focus and integrate the surrounding areas
  • Investment in new community buildings and facilities
  • Improvements to the local environment

In 1997 the Grimethorpe Regeneration Board was set up and was given the responsibility for implementing the wider regeneration strategy, deciding priorities and the allocation of funding secured.

This was chaired by the Leader of the Council
with key partner organisations and the community all taking an active part in decisions and often aligning their own programmes to ensure outcomes were met. Partners on the Board change over time to reflect the changing priorities and major schemes.

A small dedicated executive team coordinated key partners and worked with them to achieve common goals and priorities. The wider range of schemes delivered (economic, housing, environmental and community) show the extent of the range of partners that have been worked with.

The unitary development plan highlighted a new road line to open the areas to the Dearne plus a defined area of investigation for employment potential. The remediation of the former pit workings with associated land and buildings and creation of serviced employment was undertaken by Yorkshire Forward under the National Coalfields Programme.

Work commenced in 1997 when buildings were demolished, land cleared of contamination and the new road line ground prepared. In parallel, a contract was let for opencast mining of parts of the colliery site which helped finance the remediation of land which became part of the business park.

The Coalfield link Road (CLR) was constructed and opened in 1998 so Grimethorpe was no longer situated on ‘dead end’ route and linked to job opportunities in the Dearne.

The road also allowed connection directly to the new internal road payout of the Grimethorpe Park Spring and the Houghton Park Springs Employment sites, the later also opencast and the land compacted. In all 68.4 hectares of land was created for business use.

In terms of the housing a strategy this has comprised of demolishing the worst focusing firstly on the Seaside Estate of 250 houses which, due to high private and social rented numbers had a transient community.

Improving the existing focusing on the White City area, to ensure this area was more stabilised and then the Council’s stock firstly through the decent homes programme.  It was critical to build new private housing for sale through an open competition between private developers. The preferred developer selected to work in partnership and profit share with BMBC. Keepmoat are developing 350 houses on three sites, the first new homes for over 30 years.

Finally key environmental improvements have included the creation of a central Millennium Green to bring the three areas of housing together. Workers to Edderthrope Ings now a RSPB wetland area, Milefieled Marsh a wetland and balancing pond for the employment site and works to an ancient woodland.

The Land Restoration Trust and the Forestry Commission are working with Yorkshire Forward on the restored tips areas of Cudworth Common and New Park Springs to the wider community benefit. 

All this has changed the image the area dramatically and assisted in perceptions of the area and its former mining image.

Impact

The total transformation of this area ash been achieved by the Board with key partners organisations and the community all taking an active part in the decisions, aligning their own programmes to ensure priorities were achieved in an environment of market failures, land housing and commercial. Through this a wide range of outcomes have been achieved.

It has been through a combination of physical projects, particularly improvements in accessibility, reclamation, provision of serviced employment land and new and improved housing jobs. To date the total costs total of £153.16 million has been investment. (£98.47 million private and £54.694 million public sector) Obviously there is still more to do and investment will continue in the future.

A key to the success has been for public sector organisations to take the up front risks and start to develop speculative units or assemble the land for housing and link to develop speculative units or assemble the land for the housing and link to development agreements, that has then enabled private companies to secure the investment to then commit to this area.

The benefits generated range largely from economic to environmental which in turn lead to social benefits. A significant benefit is that 450 new housing units now built or programmed allowing substantiality more varied housing tenure stopping out migration and increasing the number of residents.

A total of 1.6m sq ft of commercial floor space has been created with 1000 jobs now on the site and a further 1,000 jobs potentially still to be created. This could give a total job figure of over 2000 jobs, the same figure as the number of people employed in the Grimethorpe colliery in its hey day.

As at the Spring 2010, Key outputs from schemes are:

  • 194 ha of land has been reclaimed
  • 258 derelict houses have been demolished
  • 459 new housing units are now built with another 150 in the pipeline over the next two years
  • 589 homes have been modernised A combienation of insulation, new windows doors and kitchens and bathrooms updated as appropriate
  • 1.6 m sq ft of commercial floor space has been created with 1,000 jobs
  • 38 business spaces have been created
  • 1,000 potential future jobs have been earmarked and around 700 of these are starting to come on stream in March 2011 as a new distribution operation for ASOS commences on the Houghton site
  • 9.2km of new public roads have been built
  • 1.7km of new public footpaths have been constructed
  • 130ha of public open space is now available to the community
  • Two play areas have been provided
  • 12 environmental improvements sites have been developed often just tidying up small sites that were on the main streets and so highly visible or important to local residents in the housing areas themselves.

Whilst a lot has been achieved to date there are still schemes on going, such as RSL development and the recently approved Kickstart schemes for 106 more houses and projects focussing on the worklessness agenda. In addition there is now the new Building Schools for the future new schools schemes which is on site which will also realise some further land potentially for development.

This has demonstrated that the decision to have an exit strategy for the Grimethorpe Regeneration Board and Executive team to finish in March 2008 has been the correct one in that all the major schemes were by then progressing to a stage where by the momentum was created and parents were working well enough to sustain and grow the investment made.

Lessons Learned

The main conditions for success from our learning are:

  • Having a good vision at the start and stressing that it is for a 15-20 year period. Perhaps to be over ambitious. The vision process must involve widespread participation, liking strategy, action and targets for achievement
  • Four options were developed as part of the strategy process. Following consultation there was clear consensus for the sustainable growth option which has now largely been achieved
  • Have a good grasp of baseline conditions so that strategies can be developed based on good information and knowledge and then projects implementing the strategies should then be successful
  • Have an integrated action plan which is reviewed annually so projects, linkages and opportunities are maximised
  • Ensure good cross public and private sector coordination and communication. The use of the working sub groups can greatly assist in this process
  • A balanced approach to physical redevelopment is needed to ensure it is reasonably cost effective and pubic investment will ensure securing private
  • Have a strong commitment in terms of setting up a reasonably high level board but ensure local ownership
  • Have an area based office with dedicated staff resource with a minimum of a five year start up period then reviewed on a three year basis and finally yearly as regeneration work is achieved. Build in costs for staff, buying in of skills and advice, together with turn over and retention payments
  • Processes need to be set up that demonstrate financial and management competence. This has an impact not only on the community but also on partners, external business and on funders, in terms of ability to draw down further monies
  • The vision and strategy has been effectively implemented in the last 11 years from 1997 – 2008 showing it was realistic, with the employment site now almost fully developed out and Keepmoat onto the last 20 houses of the 350
  • The exist strategy of the Board and Executive had led to a range of good working relationships at all levels which it is sure will obtain future benefits

Reference

Lerina Pearson
Green Corridor Programme Manager
Strategic Housing
Westgate Plaza One
PO Box 603
Barnsley
S70 9FD

T:01226 773290
F:01226 772498
E:lerinapearson@barnsley.gov.uk

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