It’s action stations to plan future of site

The disused factory in Amble that has over the years belonged to Jus Rol, Cheviot Foods and Northumberland Foods.
The disused factory in Amble that has over the years belonged to Jus Rol, Cheviot Foods and Northumberland Foods.

Key businesses and community representatives are to develop a ‘very visual action plan’ for the future use of a derelict factory site.

Having stood empty for more than a year, an application has been submitted to demolish the former Northumberland Foods premises on the outskirts of Amble.

It is hoped that bulldozing the building will pave the way for the much-needed redevelopment of the site, leading to future business and employment opportunities in the town.

To help draw up a possible plan of action for the Coquet Enterprise Park-based site, specific members of the community have been invited to attend special workshops to try to thrash out a way forward.

A spokesperson for Northumberland County Council said: “The council recognises the economic and the visual importance of this site at the southern gateway to Amble.

“We are pleased to have been able to secure the involvement of The Design Council through its Public Services by Design programme to work with Amble Development Trust, representatives of local Amble businesses, the local community and voluntary sector and the town council, to work in partnership to determine a future use for this important site for the benefit of the local community.

“Two workshops have been arranged and targeted key local businesses and community representatives have been invited.

“These will be held in Amble in July and led by Nick Devitt of The Design Council.

“The main objective of the Public Services by Design exercise is to develop a very visual action plan for the site.

“Through involving representatives of key organisations in Amble we aim to ensure that the project is locally focused and accountable.”

The application for the demolition is still going through the planning process.

It comes after the county council accepted the surrender of the ground lease of the site from administrator Begbies Traynor, which had marketed it nationally for more than nine months, but hadn’t attracted any interest. Branded ‘not fit for purpose’ and an ‘eyesore’, the derelict building has become a magnet for anti-social behaviour and crime since closing its doors in March 2011.

Amble mayor, Coun Ian Hinson, said he was in favour of the demolition plans and backed the idea of holding the workshops, but warned against the danger of ‘blue-sky thinking’ and hoped the sessions would yield ‘practical suggestions’.

He added: “The only solution is to clear the site. The workshops are good, provided there is a vein of reality running through the discussions.”

The workshops are not public events.