Time for rethink to save ’Craig project

How Ravenscraig town centre might have looked.
How Ravenscraig town centre might have looked.

Ravenscraig Ltd is bringing forward revised plans for the former steelworks site to take on board current developer appetites.

After 15 years the joint venture company overseeing the development, a partnership between Wilson Bowden Ltd, Tata Steel and Scottish Enterprise has realised that the world has moved on and it’s original vision of creating Scotland’s first new town for 50 years appears to be no longer viable.

With this in mind Ravenscraig Ltd is drawing up a new masterplan with the key aim of ensuring Ravenscraig’s regeneration plans are attractive and sustainable for new private sector investment.

While the plans have still to be finalised, it’s expected they will involve high quality housing and an element of retail and Ravenscraig Ltd is now working closely with North Lanarkshire Council to finalise revised plans for the site.

As part of the evolution of the masterplan, Ravenscraig Ltd decided at its recent board meeting that the town centre element of the original plan should be put on hold.

As part of the revision of the masterplan, all partners will continue to work together to better understand the potential opportunities where Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) might be used in order to help unlock future economic growth.

Wilson Bowden’s role in the partnership is to bring forward proposals which allow the other partners to decide how to progress.

Construction operations director Nick Davies put the blame squarely on protracted legal action holding up the project, the global recession and the growth of online shopping for the failure in realising the ambitions of the original masterplan.

He said: “We believe this is the right time to bring forward a revised plan which can continue the regeneration of Ravenscraig and bring forward further developments quickly and in line with market demand.

“The original masterplan was created 15 years ago when the world was a very different place.

“Legal action held up progress for five years before the House of Lords gave final approval and this was, of course, followed by the global recession.

“Since then, the retail market has been transformed due to the growth of online shopping and changing consumer demands.

“It’s these kind of changes that the revised masterplan will now seek to take into account.

“What has been delivered in the initial phase of development is a substantial achievement from a standing start.

“We will be discussing the revised plan and development framework with key partners such as North Lanarkshire Council to ensure the regeneration of Ravenscraig continues to progress.”