Thousands of jobs could be generated throughout Mansfield and Ashfield, including on the site of Thoresby Colliery, if plans for a lucrative ‘enterprise zone’ are given the go-ahead.
The grand plans have been submitted by Nottinghamshire County Council as part of a scheme to make improvements along the Robin Hood Line, that incorporates the pit which closed in June.
Enterprise zones were introduced by the Government to encourage investment from businesses by providing incentives such as tax concessions.
If given the green light, the zone would extend to the Berry Hill area near to where planning permission has been given for 1,700 homes, Sherwood Park at Ollerton and Summit Park in Ashfield.
The infrastructure at Summit Park, which is a state-of-the-art industrial estate that sits just of the MARR route, is already in place but has so far failed to attract the investment first anticipated.
The council’s ambitious proposals were discussed by D2N2, the local enterprise partnership, on Monday, who decided that the plans would be one of three submitted to the Government for consideration.
The others include the Coalite site at Bolsover, and a site in south Derbyshire.
Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, Coun Alan Rhodes, hopes the Government’s interest in re-opening the Dukeries line to provide rail links once again to Warsop, Ollerton and Edwinstowe, could be the catalyst for persuading the Government to award the area with the enterprise zone.
He said: “This summer we received the encouraging news that the Government would be minded to fund, or part-fund the capital costs of restoring the Dukeries rail link – potentially between £10m and £20m.
“We are keen to secure the maximum economic benefit for communities in Mansfield, Ashfield and Sherwood and have been working with the district council and landowners to devise an enterprise zone bid, incorporating several sites along the Robin Hood Line corridor.
“The closure of Thoresby Colliery - Nottinghamshire’s last remaining deep mine - was extremely sad news and signalled the end of an era, but our enterprise zone bid shows that communities affected could yet have a prosperous future.
“Enterprise zones provide incentives to businesses to encourage investment and have been successful in attracting jobs and investment elsewhere in Notts and other former coalfield areas.”
Crown Farm Industrial Estate in Mansfield was one former enterprise zone that has proved a major success.
The colliery on the site closed in 1988 with the business park established seven years later.
By 2002 the park hit its employment target of 1,125 - the total number of miners employed at the colliery during its heyday.
The region’s MPs are offering their full backing to the plans.
Sherwood MP Mark Spencer hopes Thoresby could follow in the footsteps of the Crown Farm and generate a major jobs boost.
He said: “I’m feeling very positive about the future of this area, with the potential for this enterprise zone on the Thoresby site.
“That will open up a great deal of jobs, bring in more tourists and generally be a huge boost to the local economy, and to local people.
“The new extension to the Robin Hood Line would have a positive relationship with these sites and connect people from surrounding villages to the jobs, and to Sherwood Forest.
“I hope that we’ll be accepted for enterprise zone status, and that we can make a great success out of it.”
Mansfield MP Alan Meale has offered his backing, saying: “The amount of jobs it could create could be phenomenal.
“We are the sub capital of Nottinghamshire and we have to put back together and build the economy, so I’m pleased the county council has come on board with this.
“We’ve got to build 15,000 homes by 2025, but it’s no good building homes and not providing jobs.”
Meanwhile, Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero “I’m really pleased that Nottinghamshire is striving to bring in extra investment to Ashfield and I’m obviously very supportive of this bid.
“It’s vital former coalfield areas like ours get their fair share of cash to help bring in more jobs and hopefully this could be a big boost to the local economy.”