Draft of proposal for regeneration of the Hirst area of Ashington to be presented to councillors

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A draft of proposals to transform part of Ashington has been published by Northumberland County Council, with councillors set to decide the next steps on Tuesday.

The Hirst Masterplan outlines proposals for new housing, green spaces, play areas, new businesses and clean energy sources in the Hirst estate, which was first developed in the early 1900s to house miners working at Woodhorn Colliery.

The proposals have been drafted following consultations with residents and the council’s cabinet will decide at a meeting on Tuesday, April 9 how to proceed.

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Deputy council leader Richard Wearmouth said: “This masterplan is among the most ambitious projects this council has undertaken over many years.

The Hirst Masterplan could lead to a large regeneration project. (Photo by Google)The Hirst Masterplan could lead to a large regeneration project. (Photo by Google)
The Hirst Masterplan could lead to a large regeneration project. (Photo by Google)

“It aims to build on the strengths of the Hirst to address the challenges in the area and make it a better place to live, tackling inequalities and driving forward economic growth.

“It is important to stress this is not a quick fix or a sticking plaster for the area, it is a detailed long term plan looking at every aspect of the Hirst, working alongside the people who live and work there, aiming to build a sustainable future over the coming decades.”

Cabinet members will be recommended to establish a partnership board that will drive the project forward and to agree to work towards the maximum scope of the project.

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The plan was commissioned from Ryder Architecture by the council, Advance Northumberland, and social housing provider Bernicia.

Proposals include retrofitting properties, improving back lanes with better parking and waste collection, improving walking and cycling routes, new playgrounds and green space, and a district heat network.

Achieving the plan’s full aims would involve selective demolition of some of the Hirst area’s 3,300 properties, other properties being reconfigured into larger homes, building new homes, and redeveloping Bellway House.

The masterplan outlines three phases of work, forecasting that the main construction work could begin as soon as 2027 and progress into the 2030s. Funding would need to be secured before work can begin.

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Wider town centre regeneration plans, including the forthcoming Northumberland Line railway station, a new Northumberland College campus, and other town centre schemes, will work alongside Hirst regeneration to address problems that followed the decline of local industries in the town.

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