Council bid for jobs as developers view sites

COUNCILLORS IN a North Yorkshire market town hit hard by job losses are to discuss the development of vacant land and buildings in a bid to boost the employment market.

Hundreds of jobs were lost in Northallerton with the closure of the town’s prison and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) government office and Hambleton Council is keen to see the land re-used, with new jobs a top priority.

A masterplan for the edge-of-town sites will be discussed by the planning committee next Thursday.

A report to the committee says the two vacant sites could link in with the Crosby Road car park and the fire station to create a comprehensive development package.

The sites, the report notes, “are the subject of a great deal of developer interest”, although the situation is complicated by the fact that some of the prison buildings are listed and because the fire station will remain at its current base for the foreseeable future.

A masterplan document suggests that the “emerging preferred option” for the former prison is a family pub/restaurant and a food store. The car park would be retained, with the potential for future residential development. The fire service site could eventually be used for a smaller fire station and some housing.

The former RPA site could be retained for education use, with retirement homes an option. The old prison incorporates the most difficult aspect of the development framework - the Grade II listed buildings, which are in varying degrees of condition, says the council. As well as a pub/restaurant, the prison could also have community uses and upper floors could be used as meeting space or a museum.