Cheers and fears greet eco-town plan

IT WAS all smiles from local developers, as Ross-ington was shortlisted among Britain's 15 potential eco-towns.

Leaders of the ambitious project met at the derelict pit top, in West End Lane, on which the town will be created by four lead developers – UK Coal, Persimmon Homes, Rossington Hall Investments and Helios Slough – if approved.

Architect Adrian Spawforth was joined by Rossington parish councillor and Rossington Hall Investments director Malcolm Clark; fellow councillor and Rossington Forward chairman, Barry Johnson; Rossington Community Partnership chairman Tom Parkin; UK Coal's Tim Love; Helios Slough's John Leivers; Persimmon Homes' Ged Collingwood; South Yorkshire Training Trust's Jim Gale and Rossington Ecotown Partnership Board's chairman John Harris to trumpet how an eco-town would improve the village.

Mr Spawforth said: "This could be something very exciting, but it still doesn't mean it will happen.

"The parts of the criteria we need to meet are simple. We need to meet Government's ambitious housing targets, employment needs to be in the close proximity – here the Inland port alone can regenerate hundreds of thousands of jobs.

"Also, community services – such as primary care, schools and shops — need to be improved, and we need to finally ask ourselves what will it mean for the existing people of Rossington? That is the most important aspect of all."

Taking up the issue of public consultation, the representatives agreed that there had been more than enough with Mr Clark adding: "A survey was done in the village at the time and 80 per cent of the people who bothered to respond, were in favour of the ecotown.

"Doncaster Council also told us that the response far exceeded anything they've ever done before."

Mr Spawforth assured the Newsletter that the public will be notified of every step saying: "We are assuring people that we will have regular contact with them throughout the process.

"We want people to sit down with us and we will also be going into schools allowing feedback at every possible opportunity."

The architect added that a website – www.rossing – had been developed, although at the time of going to press it was not accessible.

Responding to questions about green belt land making way for housing and industrial developments, Mr Gale said: "This is an area in need of regeneration and as we are a deprived area in the region, people in the existing communities want changes for the better.

"It may take some greenland but that is the case with anything anywhere."

And new Ecotown Partnership Board chairman Mr Harris said; "It's now a case of getting consultations underway.

"We have a long way to go yet, but we're in a good position."

But the plan's sceptics – including RossingtonParish Council chairmen Terry Wilde, and former chairman, Eddy Jones, pointed to a LACK of employment opportunities resulting from the Inland Port in Doncaster, and insisted jobs must come first, and housing later.

The 15 short-listed sites are soon to be whittled down to an eventual 10.

If Rossington makes the cut up to 15,000 low-carbon homes are planned – in five circular hubs around the existing village. They would increase the 13,000 population to around 42,000.

The "masterplan" for the town says 2,000 jobs would be created including an Inland port which could generate a further 4,000 more jobs; transport links to Doncaster would be improved and include a link road to the M18; education, health and community services would benefit; and the centre of Rossington would be enhanced.

The town would be completed by 2031.

Picture:Celebrating the eco-town shortlisting on Rossington pit top are Barry Johnson of Rossington Forward, Adrian Spawforth, UK Coal's Tim Love, Ged Collingwood of Persimmon homes, Malcolm Clark of Rossington Hall Investments, John Leivers of Helios Northern, John Harris, chairman of the Ecotown Partnership Board and Jim Gale, chief

executive of the Northern Racing College.