Making steps towards a bright new future for Ravenscraig

As plans to invest up to £10m in the Ravenscraig regeneration site are announced, one of the project’s top men speaks about how they are creating a new identity for the site of the former steelworks.

Blane Dodds is the chief executive for North Lanarkshire Leisure, one of the organisations behind the £32m Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility which now sits on the site of the iconic steelworks.

The sports facility, along with the development of Motherwell College on the site, has been crucial to bringing a new lease of life to the area which symbolised the death of industry in Lanarkshire.

Mr Dodds said: “The Ravenscraig building was born from North Lanarkshire Council’s vision for the former steelworks and the town development.

“Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility was seen as an instrumental part of the new town centre and moving forward.

“It is a huge success.

“Since opening 18 months ago, we’ve had more than one million customers through the doors and more than 500 sports events.

“The local community and the national sports community have somewhere to be proud of.”

Following on from the success of the sports facility, the next stage of development for Ravenscraig is in the pipeline.

This week, North Lanarkshire Council announced that up to £10m will be invested in the project to move it onto the next stage of development, which will include a link from the M8 at Newhouse and alterations to a railway bridge.

The money is set to be secured under the tax incremental funding scheme (TIF), which allows money to be borrowed against future business rates income.

Council leader, and convener of the policy and resources committee, Councillor Jim McCabe, said: “We have to take decisions now to ensure the work can be planned and a sound timescale developed.

“A lot has happened in the 20 years since Ravenscraig closed, some of it obvious, some less so.

“Much of the land was heavily contaminated and had to be remediated, which took several years.

“A sustainable plan had to be developed and partnerships formed to drive and develop the aim of creating a township.

“It has been estimated that somewhere in the region of £300m a year leaves North Lanarkshire to be spent elsewhere.

“It is vital to communities and businesses within the area that North Lanarkshire retains as much as possible within the area to help create employment and investment.”

The investment will include £5m towards extending a bridge on the A723 between Holytown and Carfin.

It is hoped the development of Ravenscraig, which is expected to be a 30-year project, will attract up to £425m of private investment and create almost 5000 jobs.

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