HUGE DEVELOPMENT: Sprawling site ready for building work after 15-year clean-up

This picture, taken in 1999, shows two 250-foot chimneys at the Avenue site which have since been demolished.
This picture, taken in 1999, shows two 250-foot chimneys at the Avenue site which have since been demolished.
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Building work on the Avenue development is set to start this autumn, it has been revealed.

The 240-acre brownfield site off Mill Lane in Wingerworth - which once housed coking works and was thought to be one of Europe's most contaminated locations - is now cleaned-up and ready for redevelopment after a major remediation project lasting 15 years.

This picture, taken in 1999, shows buildings at the Avenue site which have since been demolished.

This picture, taken in 1999, shows buildings at the Avenue site which have since been demolished.

Outline planning permission is already in place for part of the land which includes provision for 469 properties.

And now Kier Living, which has been contracted to build the first 260 homes, is looking for contractors to work on the scheme with an anticipated start date of September.

Eventually, it is hoped the Avenue development will boast:

- up to 1,100 properties by 2033

- around 12 acres of land for business uses

- a range of facilities including a new primary school, shops and sports and recreation facilities

- routes for cyclists and pedestrians within and beyond the site which enable safe and accessible links to Chesterfield and other nearby areas

- improved areas for wildlife habitats and species

Councillor Bette Hill, deputy leader of North East Derbyshire District Council, said: "We are delighted to be at a stage now where works can actually start. It is a huge development for us and has been 15 years in the making."

Mike Ashworth, Derbyshire County Council's strategic director for economy, transport and communities, added: "The Avenue will bring much-needing housing, business premises and community facilities to the area and we look forward to seeing work finally starting on the ground."

The £172.3million project to clean-up the site - which has been funded by the National Coalfields Programme - has included extensive work like using a Thermal Desorption Unit to make safe hundreds of thousands of tonnes of toxic waste.

A district council spokesman said 7,000 trees have been planted to 'create an impressive green infrastructure to compliment future housing schemes'.

The Avenue site - which is the size of about 200 football pitches - is owned by the East Midlands Development Agency, which is delivering the masterplan.

History of the Avenue...

The original Avenue colliery opened in the 1880s and later expanded to include lime and iron works. By 1938, it was all disused and large areas of the site were returned to agriculture. Construction of the Avenue coking works began in 1952 and became operational in 1956, producing smokeless fuel through coal carbonisation. It was also designed to process chemical by-products. Town gas was also produced and supplied to Chesterfield for industrial and domestic use. At its peak, the works employed 800 people and produced 1,400 tonnes of smokeless fuel a day. The site closed in 1992 with the loss of more than 500 jobs. This was due to market conditions and the changes in regulation requirements for plants of this type.