Sport and jobs to regenerate former eyesore colliery tip

AMBITIOUS plans that will create more than 100 new jobs in Ashfield and regenerate the former Bentinck tip site near Annesley have been submitted to Nottinghamshire County Council.

Broomco, which owns the former colliery spoil tip, but not the void area, unveiled far-reaching proposals to create a country park offering a host of outdoor activities across the 87-hectare site last March.

The park would become known as the Portland — which comes from the names of previous coal mining shafts at the site before it was used for tipping — and an 18-hole golf course, equestrian centre, fishing ponds, a camping and caravan site, football pitches and outdoor classrooms are among the facilities proposed.

The project is designed to be environmentally-sustainable with two wind turbines planned to generate power and there would also be office space for small businesses.

If the plans are approved, work on the site will begin later this year and some parts of the project, such as the football pitches, driving range and the first nine holes of the golf course, could open in 2015 or 2016.

The other parts of the scheme could be open during 2017 or 2018 once the restoration is complete.

A spokesman for Broomco said: “The Portland has remained an eyesore and a blot on the landscape for far too long.

“By working with the community and interest groups, we believe we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore the former pit tip.

“We are committed to delivering a high-quality restoration scheme that truly provides benefits to the community.

“The range of recreational, sporting and tourist uses on the Portland will appeal to every age group and it will provide a range of employment opportunities and attract people into Ashfield which can only be good for the local economy.

“It will show that Ashfield is ‘open for business’ and help in the broader regeneration of local communities.”

Although some of the site has previously been restored to rough grassland, the majority of it is made up of exposed colliery waste and silt lagoons.

As well as boosting the local economy, officials behind the plans say they will bring other benefits to Ashfield, such as a new water-surface management scheme to prevent flooding on nearby Park Lane as well as protecting the habitat of species, such as great crested newts, and preventing trespassers.

Last year, a series of open days took place in the district as part of a consultation to give residents the chance to have their say on the plans.

The spokesman said: “We have held a series of well-attended public consultation events in Selston, Kirkby and Annesley Woodhouse and the overwhelming response has been supportive with most people wanting us to start as soon as possible.”

In 2010, the county council threw out controversial plans by Waste Recycling Group to build a landfill at the site and it was later designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of its wildlife.