THE ambitious project to create a state-of-the-art transport interchange in Mansfield could clear a major hurdle in the New Year — when bosses hope it will gain planning permission.
A planning application has been submitted this month for the 10m scheme and Nottinghamshire County Council is expected to make a decision in January or February.
The county council is leading the bid in partnership with Mansfield District Council to transform the Station Road car park, off Quaker Way, and replace the town's dated bus station.
Project manager Paul Horn told Chad he had been working on the scheme for three years and explained how the 'gateway' scheme is the 'catalyst' to drive the town's regeneration forward.
"It is a really positive scheme," he said. "It has taken a while to get to this point and we have put quite a lot of effort in to make sure we get the scheme right.
"The site is key to the regeneration of the town. This project is basically a catalyst for the development of the Stockwell Gate area of the town which is a bit of an eyesore gateway at the moment. It doesn't send out a positive image."
Council chiefs say the new transport interchange will be an enclosed glass building boasting a cafe, toilets, seating areas, a travel office and possibly a tourist information office run by Experience Nottinghamshire.
A 1m covered footbridge will link the second floor of the showpiece building to the nearby railway station.
Mr Horn said he had been working with bus companies on the design of the bus bays and the project would also include closing Station Road and creating a new road junction.
And he revealed there would be a number of proposals to make the building energy efficient, including solar panels, utilising rainwater to flush the toilets and using a ground source heat pump — where water is pumped 100m underground, so it is heated naturally.
The Department for Transport has said it will give 7.6m towards the development, which is planned to open in 2010 –– and other funding will come from the two councils and other organisations.
And Mansfield mayor Tony Egginton told Chad: "It is a positive project. It is a real example of partnership working and credit to the officers at the county and district for working together to bring forward what is going to be a quality interchange.
"Local people have had a lot of input into it. It is going to give people who arrive there a pleasant experience of Mansfield."