A site in Alnwick, which was the subject of a controversial housing plan, has been given a new lease of life.
The keys for the old Willowburn highways depot, which has stood empty for 18 months, have been handed over to new owner Mick Thorburn, of AA Construction Utilities Ltd.
It’s positive news for Northumberland County Council after a planning inspector recently upheld its refusal of new homes on the site.
A public inquiry took place during the summer after the council rejected an outline application for around 125 homes on Willowburn Trading Estate.
The council successfully argued the site is designated as employment land as set out in the Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan and not for residential development,
Alnwick county councillor Gordon Castle said: “This is good news for the town and the council.
“It means local businesses do want to locate to this site just as the local plan requires and the planning inspector made certain was possible.
“It was identified early by the Alnwick Forum as council-owned land needing industrial use.
“The sale has happened very quickly indeed, showing that this forum doesn’t just talk, it delivers.
“Thanks are due to council officers and Mr Thorburn for moving so quickly.”
Mick Thorburn said: “We are delighted to acquire the Willowburn depot and are looking forward to being based there.
“Not only is this great news for our current companies, AA Construction Utilities Ltd and Thorburn Bros Ltd, but also for our local community as this will create job opportunities and reduce unemployment in the area.
“Being a resident of Alnwick, this is very important to us as a family and as a business group.
“We aim to expand both current businesses within this depot, which will enable us to serve the wider business community.
“Our future plans for Willowburn depot are to create an industrial estate, which includes the redevelopment of existing buildings, offering safe, secure units, which will benefit local businesses within Alnwick and the surrounding area.
“I believe this will be a huge boost for the area and great news for existing and new businesses”
Coun Richard Wearmouth, cabinet member for economic development, added: “It’s always good to see vacant buildings getting a new lease of life and businesses investing in our towns.”