Jobs boost in homes bid

AS many as 350 homes could be built on a 20-acre site within the Rockware glass factory site near Barnsley in a bid to safeguard jobs.

Tuesday, 11th September 2007, 10:35 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th September 2007, 11:09 am

Barnsley planners last night approved an outline scheme for the land off Burton Road in Monk Bretton, even though the area is designated for industrial use.

The factory owners, the Ardagh Group, say selling off the land for housing is the only way of ensuring further investment in the factory and retaining local jobs.

In December it was announced 200 jobs were to go at the factory, which used to be called Redfearns, and one of the huge furnaces shut down because of increased competition in the glass industry. Months later the firm said 60 of those jobs had been saved because of new business - but the third furnace was still closed down.

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There are currently 450 people employed at Rockware with at least 165 other jobs among suppliers of goods and services.

The Ardagh group has told planners it will need to invest millions in the Monk Bretton plant over the coming few years and, with increased fuel costs and rising competition, it needs the cash it will get from selling off the land for housing to invest in the glass factory.

Barnsley Development Agency has backed the land sale plans.

An official said: "The strongly-held view of the BDA is we should do everything within our power to support this business during what are very difficult economic circumstances which we all understand."

No local residents had objected to the outline planning application which will mean creating a new access road from Burton Road to the new housing estate.

The homes will be one and two-bedroomed apartments, semi-detached town houses, detached houses and terraced town houses. But South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive said it did not consider the site sustainable due to a lack of public transport availability, without the provision of a package of measures including a subsidy to enhance the bus service, provision of public transport season tickets, and bus shelters.

A planning official said: "Some 450 people continue in employment at the site and discussions with the company suggest the application represents the only opportunity to safeguard these jobs and to provide a platform for economically sustainable activity in the future."