THE NEW Year is set to bring new challenges for Hucknall as key regeneration projects face a make-or-break 2013.
Despite the current economic downturn, many people feel there are grounds for optimism that the town can look forward to a thriving future.
Key progress is likely to be made at last with plans for the long-awaited inner bypass and part-pedestrianisation of High Street, which is a vital factor in a masterplan for revival of the town centre.
There is also the scheme aiming to create up to 2,000 jobs through a business park which is proposed for a large section of Hucknall’s Rolls-Royce site.
This scheme would go hand in hand with an estate of 900 new homes, including a new primary school, and it would transform the west of Hucknall.
Meanwhile, moves are continuing to attract businesses to move into units at the new Byron Centre off Vine Terrace, which was opened two months ago.
The deputy leader of Ashfield District Council, Coun John Wilmott (Lab), of Hucknall, said: “Obviously, we are facing very difficult challenges at present.
“We are having to save £1.6 million for the current financial year and a further £1.1 million the following year.
“Even so, we have managed a total of nearly 90% improvements in the services we provide. I think that is really encouraging.”
Coun Wilmott said he thought the Rolls-Royce scheme would be an exciting project after ‘a few little problems with it’ were sorted out.
He believed the council’s plans to build modern bungalows for elderly people on the site of Hucknall’s Darlison Court flats would bring prestige to the town.
Coun Mick Murphy, a Hucknall Conservative member of Notts County Council, said: “It is no secret that I do not support the inner bypass and pedestrianisation plans for the town centre.
“But they now look certain to go ahead. Too much time and money has been spent on the scheme for it not to happen now.
“Hucknall people want an answer as to when it will start and I hope that is forthcoming as soon as possible in the New Year. There has been far too much frustration. People have been talking about the new road for decades.
“But I just hope the proposals will justify the £11 or £12 million being spent on carrying them out.”
Coun Murphy, who formerly worked at Rolls-Royce, said he was pleased that plans for the site included a new sheet metal unit for the company, which would safeguard about 200 jobs.
“The other side of the coin is Gedling Borough Council’s plan for large-scale housing at Top Wighay Farm, Linby, which would have a devastating impact on Hucknall,” said Coun Murphy. “I am sure the fight to stop those proposals going ahead will continue.”
Coun Murphy said there was no disguising the fact that the county council faced another tough year, with more difficult decisions having to be made about finance — although he believed these were for the right reasons.
But as far as Hucknall was concerned, he thought it was a very good sign that people were starting to occupy empty shops in the town centre.
Hucknall Conservative MP Mark Spencer said: “I think there are quite a few reasons to be optimistic. There are still massive challenges but I have been talking to one or two companies who may bring more jobs into Hucknall, although I cannot go into any details at the moment.
“Locally, things may not be as black as we feel they are. There is a saying that it is always darkest before dawn.
“Councils must play their part to make sure council taxes stay low. At the same time, the government can play a role — for instance, if it resists putting up duty on fuel.”