The Coalfields Regeneration Trust in England is laying the foundations for new business growth with plans to develop mini industrial estates with workshops and incubator units, in and around former mining areas.
The Trust has appointed Shaun O’Brien a chartered surveyor with vast experience of developing former coal industry sites, as its Property Investment and Development Director.
Mr O’Brien will be responsible for two new ventures the Trust has launched: CRT Property Developments Ltd and CRT Property Investments Ltd.
Gary Ellis Chief Executive of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust said: “These exciting new ventures mean the Trust in England will be self-sustaining when our grant funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) comes to an end next year.
“These companies also give us a great opportunity to encourage new businesses and help small established enterprises grow, through developing work spaces that are tailor made to meet their needs”.
Mr O’Brien whose experience includes working for UK Coal and Harworth Estates with responsibility for the redevelopment and asset management of former mining assets for commercial business space premises and development sites over the last 15 years, said: ”I am delighted to be joining the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and for the opportunity to pro-actively manage their property portfolios.
“I believe there is a real opportunity to ensure a good return for the Trust and make a significant contribution to creating and sustaining jobs in former mining areas through our work space development programme.
“We will be looking for sites with a view to speculatively developing small to medium sized starter units and workshops backed by a bold leasing policy.
“There is a real gap in the current market for this sort of development, and because our priority is supporting coalfields communities, we will be able to make them available to local entrepreneurs and new businesses, who often find it difficult to secure premises without an established trading history”.
Mr Ellis added: “Our property ventures mean we can be confident that the Coalfields Regeneration Trust will be self-sustaining and still committed to supporting former mining areas when our current Government funding in England comes to an end next year, and that’s a significant achievement.
“But we face a massive challenge to replace the DCLG’s funding package of £10m a year to enable us to continue to tackle the problems that still blight many former mining areas.
“These issues include high levels of unemployment and economic inactivity, greater than average benefit dependency and low levels of business start ups with a recent study finding many former mining areas suffer from a degree of deprivation comparable to the worst inner city housing estates”.