Two decades after the closure of the Selby “superpit” complex a proposal to regenerate the site looks set to be given the go-ahead and could see several thousand people employed there.

North Yorkshire Council’s strategic planning committee is being recommended to approve Harworth Group’s scaled back proposal for the 75-hectare former Gascoigne Wood colliery site near Sherburn in Elmet.

The meeting on Tuesday, June 11, follows years of wrangling over the former pit, which closed in 2004 as its owners, UKCoal, did not consider it financially viable.

There have been numerous planning applications to re-use and redevelop the site, including employment re-use of the existing buildings and infrastructure in 2005 which was allowed on appeal in 2007, and a short-term operating electricity generation plant in 2014.

A proposal for a larger development also encompassing 43ha of farmland was rejected by councillors in 2018 and again at appeal in 2020, for having poor transport links and being “inappropriate development in the open countryside”.

Application documents state a revised proposal for the site, featuring several large-scale industrial buildings with a combined area of 135,638sq m would be built close to the Selby to Leeds double tracked railway line, which connects to the East Coast Main Line at Hambleton Junction.

The documents state the development would take 10 years to complete and the proposal would involve the loss of no farmland as the proposed drainage basin to serve the development would remain in agricultural use.

The papers state: “The proposed development therefore seeks to maximise the existing opportunities within the site by utilising the unique rail infrastructure the site contains, to provide significant employment benefits.”

York Press: North Yorkshire Council's strategic planning committee Picture: LDRSNorth Yorkshire Council's strategic planning committee Picture: LDRS

The application underlines benefits of the proposal would include a significant contribution to Selby’s employment land provision and economic growth aspirations and a strengthening of Selby’s ability to secure large-scale and prominent investment.

Depending on businesses which moved there, the proposed development could generate between 1,468 and 3,790 full-time jobs, the papers claim.

Although some residents initially campaigned for the site to return to agricultural use after the mine’s closure, there have been few objections to the latest proposals.

Sherburn Aeroclub, which is based next to the proposed site, has raised concerns over turbulence effects of the proposed new buildings on aircraft using its runways, while Tadcaster-based Samuel Smith Old Brewery has objected, saying the scheme would be detrimental to the character of the area.

A planning officer’s report to the committee states although the redevelopment of brownfield land is supported by a council policy supporting the reuse of Gascoigne Wood provided it is directly related to the use of the existing rail infrastructure, the scale of the proposal exceeds it.

The report states the latest proposal “represents a more appropriate scale of development” than previous plans, which was “compatible with the countryside location”.

It adds studies had revealed turbulence impacts on the airfield “would not be excessive” and while the site is distant from Sherburn in Elmet, a package of network improvements and sustainable transport improvements, including a shuttle bus, had been proposed.