No fixed date has yet been set for the demolition of the cooling towers but we are aiming to complete the exercise later this year. At present, asbestos is being removed from the towers and they are being individually prepared for demolition.
As part of our preparation, a total of three test blasts need to be carried out on the cooling towers, with two tests already completed. The third test blast will take place on Tuesday 10th September. Each test blast involves preparing an area the size of a large television with explosives, with the concrete marked blue so that when the explosives test takes place the material can be tracked and marked when it lands. This informs the complex process of tower demolition. The Health and Safety Executive and key groups including both local authorities are continuing to monitor and advise on the demolition process along with other organisation and groups. Whist there may be additional noise being generated from this test blast, this is nothing for local people or businesses to worry about as it forms part of our agreed demolition process.
When Harworth and its contractors are in a position to confirm the demolition date, it will provide a clear 48 hours notice to local residents and organisations via a letter delivered in person, whilst the same information will be published on ironbridgeregeneration.co.uk and released to key stakeholders and local media. This will include clear instructions on the exclusion zone that will be put in place, a plan for where the demolition can be viewed from and a directive on when local residents close to the site can return to their homes. This is the same process that Harworth & its contractors have followed in redeveloping other sites within its portfolio and has been designed with the key purpose of maximising site safety and security whilst giving appropriate notice to minimise disruption to local residents and businesses.
An exclusion zone will be enforced around the site on the day of demolition for the protection of both site staff and residents, viewing close to the site will be restricted. We appreciate however that the demolition of the towers is a key local event for residents close to the site and as a result, we are working with key groups including both Councils to identify establish safe viewing areas ahead of intended demolition. Properties inside the exclusion zone will be contacted in person.
Further information on the location of these sites will be communicated via the press and the Ironbridge website when notice is given on when we intend to bring down the towers.
As per our answers above, we are keen to keep local residents and businesses informed in a way that makes clear what the next stages of demolition are but in a way that does not impair the safety or security of our complex operation on-site. This remains our absolute priority.
Aside from the communication we released via press and our website in mid-September, we intend to give further monthly updates via press and the Ironbridge regeneration website as part of this process.
The minerals application will be submitted by November 2019. We expect the application to take around 6 months to determine but that is the responsibility of Shropshire Council as the minerals planning authority. A public information exhibition setting out the proposals will be held on Wednesday 2nd October between 3pm and 8pm at Buildwas Village Hall.
Approximately 2 million tonnes would be removed, at a rate of 400,000 tonnes per annum (equating to a five-year extraction period).
The intention is to transport the minerals off site via the railway line, to avoid significant HGV movements on the road network. This reflects the importance of our ongoing work with Network Rail and other stakeholders to strengthen the existing railway bridge into site to support the rail movements this would generate.
The planning application for redevelopment will be submitted towards the end of 2019, supported by a series of technical documents including transport, ecology and sustainability assessments. Once submitted to Shropshire Council, residents and businesses will have an opportunity to make further comments on the proposed scheme via the Shropshire.gov.uk website as part of its statutory consultation.
Given the complexity and scale of the proposed development, we anticipate it will take up to a year to determine. This would be the responsibility of Shropshire Council.
Our current proposals mirror what was presented at our last public consultation event in May, comprising approximately 1000 residential dwellings, commercial use, a village centre, leisure uses, primary school, medical facilities, open space and landscaping, Park and Ride scheme, access and associated infrastructure. These plans can still be accessed on the website.
We expect development to take between ten and fifteen years. It will be delivered in phases like all big developments, meaning changes over time will be gradual and planned. Local residents should also note that each phase of development will require what is known as ‘detailed’ planning consent, where the planned development has to conform with the outline planning consent granted for the site’s wider redevelopment. Local people will be statutory consultees for all future applications.
Traffic modelling has been undertaken in conjunction with Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire Council. The results of this will be used to look at the proposed access strategy for the site and vehicle movements in relation to the highways network and future development. The outcome will be used to determine how and where mitigation to road junctions will be needed.
Similarly, we have worked hard with local heritage groups to make sure any development does not adversely affect the gorge or the operation of museums over time. We remain focused on eventually bringing passenger rail services into use to support local ambitions to increase tourism to Ironbridge and this also remains the subject of regular discussion with local groups, including the Telford Steam Railway and Ironbridge Railway Trust.
As above, discussions are taking place with Network Rail over the use of the line and the upgrade of the Albert Edward bridge. The intention is to create a viable passenger rail service from the Power Station to Telford.
Discussion are on-going with both Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Councils over the provision of a new primary school on site and the provision of new medical facilities.
As part of the planning application, our proposals will be assessed from a landscape and visual impact aspect, including potential impacts on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, World Heritage Site and Buildwas Abbey. Mitigation measures such as screening can be incorporated throughout the site as required the results of this assessment.