I first wrote here about the Ironbridge Power Station site in January 2017. There was understandable apprehension about what might happen to the site now that electricity generation had ceased.
In May 2017 I addressed the demolition of the conveyors and the haul route for the 360 tonnes of waste material, much of it metal. Clearly there was concern about which roads might be used and in Much Wenlock particular sensitivity about the A4169’s narrow route through the town’s conservation area.
Now it has been announced that Harworth Group has purchased the 350-acre site.
Harworth Group claims to be one of the UK’s leading and most experienced developers of former industrial and brownfield land. They specialise in the redevelopment of large industrial sites, ranging from former collieries to aluminium smelters and factories, creating new homes and employment spaces.
As Harworth say, the redevelopment of the former power station is a long-term programme and any plans for the site need to be worked up with the utmost care and attention. Many, including me, are concerned about the impact that dropping the iconic cooling towers and the tall chimney will have on the delicate Severn gorge. Benthall Edge, the steep area of woodland sitting behind the power station, is home to many workings dating from the time of the Industrial Revolution, at a time when health & safety, method statements, ways of working and detailed drawings were not required. The disused limestone pits and holloways, down which material was conveyed to the Severn trows, may rely entirely on trees and vegetation for their stability.
I wrote in September 2017 about the assumptions being made about the demolition phase for this site and about the environmental considerations.
Harworth’s plan for the site starts with site safety and security. Secondly, they recognise it is a complex site and they want to undertake detailed technical investigations. Thirdly, they plan to conduct a community engagement programme later this year to gauge what local aspirations are for the site.
In the meantime, I anticipate meeting Harworth very soon. with my Shropshire Councillor colleagues Claire Wild (in whose ward the site is) and Simon Harris from Broseley, together with the Telford & Wrekin Councillor for Ironbridge, Nicola Lowery. This a good investment opportunity for Shropshire but we do want to emphasise our concerns for the environment, the traffic concerns and disruption generally over what is likely to be a three to five-year demolition and construction period.
I’ll be updating you as soon as we know more about Harworth’s plans, and how you can influence them. In the meantime, if you want to contact Harworth about their plans or your concerns, their email address is email@example.com.