MPs check on progress of 7,000-job Doncaster coalfield scheme
A major regeneration scheme, set to create over 7,000 jobs in one of South Yorkshire’s old coalfields, welcomed Members of Parliament last week as they checked on progress.
Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and local Government, was joined by Nick Fletcher, Conservative MP for Don Valley, and James Hart, Conservative mayoral candidate, for the visit to Unity, a private-sector scheme led by joint venture partners Hargreaves Land and Waystone.
The project will see 250 hectares (618 acres) of land eight miles north-east of Doncaster opened up for development, linked directly to the local communities and attracting a potential £800m of inward investment.
Unity is one of the largest mixed-use regeneration schemes in the UK and will provide more than 3,000 new homes, a marina, leisure and 200 acres of open spaces, a new school and transport hub, shops, healthcare facilities and numerous commercial opportunities.
The site will also accommodate industrial and warehousing units from approximately 50,000 to 1,000,000 sq ft.
The scheme includes £33m worth of Section 106 commitments, including a park-and-ride scheme and improvements to the Hatfield and Stainforth railway station.
Unity is situated in a prime strategic location on the eastern section of the M18/M180 motorway corridor, bounded by the Stainforth and Keadby Canal to the north, Stainforth – Doncaster’s last pit village – to the west and Dunscroft and Hatfield to the south, all surrounding the former Hatfield Colliery site. It is also less than 20 minutes’ car journey away from Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
The regeneration scheme promises to bring jobs to an area that missed out on much of the coalfield regeneration money in the 1990s because it still had a working mine.
But Hatfield Colliery finally closed in 2015, 99 years after it opened; its winding towers now have listed status and its spoil heap will become a country park.
Unity is the latest, and one of the grandest, regeneration schemes to tackle the industrial legacy of the Yorkshire mining industry. When the coal industry was nationalised in 1947, there were 156 collieries in Yorkshire. Most were shut down in the 1980s and 90s – the last one, Kellingley, closed in 2015 – and many of the communities around the old pits have struggled to attract inward investment and jobs.
Last week’s visit enabled the MPs to see at first hand the progress and level of investment that has been made so far at what is a nationally significant site, including the creation of a new £16.7m link road, Unity Way, which opened in December, linking Junction 5 of the M18 to Waggons Way next to the former Hatfield Colliery.
The development is supported by Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council and Sheffield City Region, which part-funded the new link road, and also by Homes England which is supporting the programme of new housing on site.
Alistair McLoughlin, inset, director of Waystone and a member of the joint venture developer, Waystone Hargreaves Land LLP, said: “This is an excellent opportunity to showcase the magnitude of the Unity project and the many benefits to the local communities.
“We were also able to explain to the Minister the practical hurdles that have to be overcome in a regeneration project of this nature. It is very encouraging that a Minister is showing personal interest in Unity.”