BULLDOZERS have moved in at what was once a Northumberland seaside town's biggest employer. A closed factory at Amble which was operated under a string of names, once housing 250 workers, is now in the process of being demolished by Northumberland County Council.
The authority and various organisations in the town are now in the process of determining a future use for the site.
The factory on the town’s Coquet Enterprise Park closed just before Christmas 2010 following failed attempts to operate it by the likes of Cheviot Foods, Northumberland Foods and Longbenton Foods.
Administrators of Northumberland Foods put the site on the market nationwide but it then became a target for thieves and anti-social behaviour.
Metal and wire was stolen from the factory while there were reports of suspicious vehicles, attempted thefts and break-ins, and possible intruders.
After more than nine months with no interest in buying the site, the county council, which owns the land, accepted the surrender of the ground lease from the administrator.
The council then, last May, applied for planning permission to demolish and clear the site, saying it was not fit for purpose and at the end of its useful life.
The authority said it would then be able to promote the redevelopment of the site with the aim of bringing new jobs to Amble in the future.
The demolition proposal was backed by Northumbria Police.
Permission was subsequently granted and the bulldozers have now moved in.
Cameron Scott, local growth manager at the council, said: “Demolition of the buildings on the site started in January – and this is scheduled to be complete by mid-April.
“The site will be left clear and a new boundary fence constructed.
“The council recognises the economic and the visual importance of this site at the southern gateway to Amble and has been pleased to secure the involvement of The Design Council through its ‘Public Services by Design’ programme to work with Amble Development Trust, representatives of local Amble businesses, the local community and voluntary sector and the town council, to determine a future use for the site for the benefit of the local community.
“A number of alternative ideas and proposals for the future of the site and the broader regeneration of Amble town as a whole, have been discussed and are being investigated in more detail.
“No decisions have been made yet.”
County councillor for the town Robert Arckless said the Amble 2020 group of which he is a member is involved in discussions over the future of the site.
“Hopefully it will tidy the area up.
“The Amble 2020 group are working hard to look at options among other things.
“Amble had a lot of success in the late 90s getting funding for projects that went through via the Amble Development Trust and those days are long gone.
“It is going to be very tough. We are not going to be showered with loads of cash, the local authorities are really up against it.
“The town council which is working hard has a small budget but what we have got is a willingness to work together and that hopefully will make a difference.”