Businessman calls for Mansfield District Council to support brewery plan

NMAC11-2227-2.jpg'Mansfield Brewery Site
NMAC11-2227-2.jpg'Mansfield Brewery Site
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A businessman is calling on Mansfield District Council to back a plan which could bring development of the town’s old brewery site a step closer to completion.

Ron Kirk, former managing director of Mansfield Brewery, chaired a group of investors whose aim was to turn the old site on Great Central Road into a food and drink industry academy.

But the £40m project failed to come to fruition due to a lack of funding from the public sector.

Now Mr Kirk has asked Mansfield District Council to commission an appraisal of the development by the National Skills Council and Local Enterprise Board in order to make a presentation to the coalition government for their support.

He said: “While there is a general willingness to contribute no single private funder is capable of funding the whole scheme on a speculative basis assuming that others will follow.

“As a consequence we are of the view that it would take the support of the public sector in co-operation with the private sector to develop the concept in the absence of a suitable alternative.

“The community of Mansfield is faced with a choice of either seeing a daily reminder of decay and neglect near the heart of their town or the possibility of a beacon of hope for its future with this proposal in the absence of a better alternative.”

The site has been derelict for ten years and ideas developed by the consortium include a 100-seat restaurant and brewery, running at 10 per cent capacity of the old brewery.

A cafe and visitor centre would attract tourists, followed by a food industry academy with up to 15,000 full and part-time students. Student accommodation, starter homes, start-up business units, a recycling plant and other facilities would also be included.

The former Mansfield Brewery buildings were demolished in 2008, seven years after the original site closed.

It is now overseen by administrators KPMG.

Coun Kate Allsop, portfolio holder for economic regeneration at Mansfield District Council, said: “Due to demands on the capital programme the ability to secure external funding for such a scheme has been limited.

“The Council has contributed towards extensive negotiations on the proposal without ever being presented with a business plan.”

She said securing an appraisal was not the council’s job.