Mansfield development could bring 4,000 jobs to town

MANSFIELD is to finally discover the fate of a huge new development plan designed to bring thousands of much-needed jobs and around 1,700 new homes to the town.

The Lindhurst development off the A617 MARR road is to go before a planning committee on 13th June, a year-and-a-half after it was first submitted.

If approved it will bring in up to 4,000 jobs and hundreds of millions of pounds’ of investment which politicians hope will help transform the area’s fortunes.

Bosses have also revealed a high-profile Nottingham developer, successful in helping to regenerate parts of the city, will become one of the scheme’s key developers if the green light is given.

Politicians say it could be a giant stride forward for Mansfield, but local people delivered a warning that the scheme’s talk of jobs must be based on concrete plans.

Richard Bowden, co-ordinator of the project, said: “We’ve been trying to sort out the various issues with the statutory consultees such as highways and Natural England.

“We had to wait for the May elections as well because we did not want it to be a political football.

“If it is approved next month there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have sorted the detail out by the end of the year, ahead of breaking ground in the new year.”

Besides homes and business facilities, the 169-hectare scheme also includes a primary school, land allocated for a cemetery, plus a park and community centre.

Building it will cost £170m and involve 300 construction jobs.

This week the project also issued new detailed plans for initial comment to Mansfield District Council for a business and innovation centre on the western side of the site, close to West Notts College.

This would aim to support the foundation of new local companies in partnership with the college.

Papers ahead of the June meeting will be released this week, including an officer’s recommendation.

If the overall plan is approved in June, a new company called Cricket Developments will be formed by Mark Cavell of Lacemarket Properties, which has played a key role in the city centre over the last decade.

The company will set up a ‘regeneration office’ in Mansfield employing local people, with the aim of moving the plan forward and creating a cycle of cash which keeps investment in the scheme in the local economy.

It will also look to become involved in several other Mansfield locations beside Lindhurst.

Mr Cavell said: “We’ve built over 1,500 properties in the centre of Nottingham. It’s not pie in the sky because we’ve delivered these types of issues before.

“We will effectively use local businesses for as many aspects of the development as possible and if there are demands they can’t cater for, then we will set that business up ourselves employing local people.

“It’s a new form of regeneration; the company will allow us to capture as much of the benefit, income and employment for the local area.”

Underlining the 13th June decision was key, he added: “My history is in not doing the easy. We specialise in inner-city regeneration projects which by their very nature are difficult and we’ve got a track record of delivery.”

Mansfield mayor Tony Egginton welcomed the developments, and said if given the go-ahead the plan would boost the town’s economy.

“It’s got to be good news it’s moving forward,” he said.

“This looks like a project that’s not just a pipe dream; it is deliverable.

“Unless we create growth in the economy and in housing we are not going to turn the tide.”

Some residents and workers gave a cautious welcome to the news, while others remain sceptical.

Retired British Coal employee Jim Wright lives on Chatsworth Drive, yards from where part of the proposed development will be.

“I’m unconvinced at this time,” said Mr Wright (67). “If it’s built we could end up with Mansfield having no town centre and they need to come up with firm business and job proposals because otherwise once it’s approved the jobs may not materialise.

“It’s got to be purposeful for Mansfield and not just about commercial gain.”

Chris Marke (37) has been out of work for three years and is job-hunting in Mansfield.

He said more direct Government assistance alongside regeneration schemes would be needed to drive the town forward.

The Warsop resident is a painter and decorator by trade and has been taking training courses in his fight for a job.

“The market has slumped so if they do build all these houses people won’t be able to buy them at the moment because the banks won’t lend,” he said.

“I’m worried things will get worse in the next 12 months which could affect something like this.”

West Nottinghamshire College’s executive director of capital projects Tom Stevens said: “The college is looking forward to being able to support the Lindhurst development’s business and innovation centre at some point in the future. “The college would welcome becoming involved with improving the training and employment opportunities for our local communities.”