Council pledges to protect 'green break' between Kirkby and Sutton as £100m innovation project given cross-party support

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Councillors have vowed to protect a ‘green break’ between two Ashfield towns as they gave cross-party support to a new £100m business park.

A meeting of Ashfield Council’s full council unanimously backed plans to buy land off Lowmoor Road, Kirkby from Nottinghamshire Council.

The deal is part of two major projects on the land which will see an innovation and technology park (IATP) created near Sutton Parkway railway station.

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Negotiations over the land were described in a meeting as ‘difficult’ but the terms of sale – approved via a separate, exempt report – have now been agreed.

Ashfield councillors have given unanimous backing to the £100m project. Photo: SubmittedAshfield councillors have given unanimous backing to the £100m project. Photo: Submitted
Ashfield councillors have given unanimous backing to the £100m project. Photo: Submitted

It’s led to cross-party support at the council and unanimous approval so construction on the ADMC can start next year.

Coun Phil Rostance (Con), leader of the opposition, who represents Hucknall West, said: “The Conservatives at County Hall know the importance of this project.

“It will unlock development here in Ashfield, it’s a great project.

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"It’s good we’ve been able to do this and work with the county council to unlock it.”

The key component of the park will be an advanced distribution and manufacturing centre (ADMC), funded as the flagship project in the authority’s £62.6m Towns Fund Government pot.

The ADMC is a purpose-built facility which promises jobs and significant investment in new technologies.

This includes research and development, new product development and testing, education and skills development, technology showcasing and event hosting.

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About £20.5m will be used from the Towns Fund pot to deliver the £30m, ‘nationally and potentially internationally-recognised’ centre.

The 4,000-square-metre, purpose-built ADMC will sit at the heart of the IATP which is aimed at becoming a ‘destination’ for a number of industries.

This includes aeronautics, robotics, biosciences, engineering and manufacturing.

Overall, the two projects are forecast to cost about £100m – including cash from the council and inward funding from external organisations.

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Within the technology park will be an advanced distribution and manufacturing centre (ADMC) which promises significant investment in research and development.

Its site – on Lowmoor Road – was selected due to its ‘size, strategic location, transport links, proximity to West Nottinghamshire College in Mansfield and neighbouring industrial clusters”.

An alternative location near Oakham Business Park, at the Mansfield border near Amazon, was also discussed but was later discounted.

The district council has now received full approval to buy the Lowmoor Road land, which was previously owned by the Conservative-led county council.

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The meeting heard the land was previously viewed as a ‘green break’ between Sutton and Kirkby, leading to issues negotiating its use.

However, council bosses pledged to ensure this ‘break’ is maintained.

Coun Matt Relf (Ash Ind) is the authority’s portfolio holder for regeneration said: “We are looking through the landscaping of the site to make sure this green break is maintained.

“It’s a brilliantly-connected site, straight out of the A38 and M1 corridor and next to Sutton Parkway railway station.

“I’m very proud we’ve managed to get this through.

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“It’s a pathway for young people and existing people already in work to learn and obtain skills and get higher paid jobs.

“It isn’t just for the ADMC but for the broader business park which will welcome businesses that complement the ADMC, either through supply chains or being customers of automation technology.

“We’re already having positive conversations with various companies on that front.”