Shock plan to develop Rolls-Royce site and create work for hundreds

Rolls-Royce site from the air
Rolls-Royce site from the air

HOPES have been raised that a spectacular new development at the Rolls-Royce site in Hucknall could pave the way for hundreds of new jobs in the town.

Coun Chris Baron (Lab), a Hucknall member of Ashfield District Council, made the surprising revelation during a meeting of the town’s Reach Out Residents Group this week.

He said the proposal would include a new factory and employment units that would go hand-in-hand with the proposed building of 800 new homes on another part of the Rolls site off Watnall Road.

Coun Baron said: “The proposals represent a £27 million investment. European funding would cover £7.5 of this sum and Rolls-Royce must pick up the difference. The plans offer a great potential to Hucknall’s economy.”

Coun Baron told the meeting that the company wanted to sell some of the Hucknall site for the housing development. He added that a proposedaccess to the factory would run from Hucknall bypass through Bulwell woodland.

Coun Mick Murphy, a Hucknall Conservative member of Notts County Council, and the town’s Tory MP, Mark Spencer. revealed that they were well aware of the plans and warmly welcomed them.

However, Rolls-Royce was tight-lipped this week about the site’s future. A spokeswoman said: “We are at the start of a very long process of developing the site. I can give an assurance that we will keep the local community informed of anything proposed.”

If the development materialises, it would help to offset the devastating impact that the recession has had on the town.

It is understood an initial planning application could be submitted as early as the summer.

Coun Murphy, a former Rolls-Royce employee, said: “I am absolutely delighted with these very ambitious plans.

“They would mean quality jobs and wages for Hucknall people and hopefully help to stimulate the regeneration of Hucknall town centre, while the housing would be of a high standard.”

He added that he and Mr Spencer would continue talking to Rolls-Royce about the proposals. He hoped they would lead to improvements in the area’s infrastructure and he thought traffic lights at the Rolls-Royce access off Watnall Road would help to control traffic.

Coun Murphy added: “It should be emphasised that this development is not going to happen overnight and it will be a long haul.”

Mr Spencer said: “This scheme is an opportunity to bring employment to Hucknall and it is very good news. I also think that of all the Hucknall sites that have been talked about for housing development, the land at Rolls-Royce is the most acceptable. It would be an ideal scenario if people working on the Rolls site lived in the adjoining new homes.”

Coun Baron said Rolls-Royce was likely to put in three separate planning application to Ashfield Council for the far-reaching proposals.

The first would focus on the access road, while the second would be for the factory and the third for the housing.

Coun Baron said details had yet to be finalised but he would be strongly against the idea of an access road for the housing being off Watnall Road. He hoped the development plans would mean improvements for the community with a building provided fto house a doctors’ surgery to serve the west of Hucknall.

Coun Baron said a suggestion had been made for a bus route to be extended along Watnall Road to the Rolls-Royce site, which could benefit people of Westville.

A member of a steering group for the scheme, Coun Baron said he would be happy to keep residents informed as it progressed.

Rolls-Royce currently uses its Hucknall site as its national site for the manufacture of combustion components. It is still Hucknall’s biggest employer, providing about 800 jobs.