North Lanarkshire’s council leader says plans to transform the site of Ravenscraig into a new town will create jobs and stimulate the area’s economy.
Speaking on the local authority’s decision to invest up to £10m into roads and infrastructure at the former steelworks, Councillor Jim McCabe revealed the regeneration would take at least 20 years to complete.
In an interview with the BBC's Good Morning Scotland Councillor McCabe said: “We want to be in a situation where we more or less create a new town.
“We’ve already started it with £31m spent on the sports facility. There’s colleges there and there’s housing which has started at this point in time.
"I doubt very much if I’ll see it - it will take 20 years and maybe more.
“It’s a long, long time venture to get Ravenscraig to where we’d like it to be. But we’ve got to work at it, we can’t have a site the same size as Monaco lying there doing nothing.
“We’ve got to make use of it and that’s the whole intention to stimulate the economy and create jobs in North Lanarkshire.”
The latest investment in the project will allow it to move to the next stage of development, which will include a link from the M8 to Newhouse and alterations to a railway bridge.
The funding will be secured under the tax incremental funding scheme (TIF) which allows money to be borrowed against future business rates income.
The council leader said: “It will be spent on creating a road which will take us from the M74 through Motherwell, by purchasing land etc, a bridge that will take us down to Ravenscraig and from there to the M8.
“It’s a very, very important road for the future, very important. It gives a direct route from the two main roads through North Lanarkshire and will hopefully create a greater interest by virtually the fact that the transport side of it should be ok.
“When we started out on this venture, it took seven years to decontaminate Ravenscraig, there was an unnecessary delay of four years ending up in the House of Lords to get planning permission for it, so there’ve been perfectly good reasons as to why we haven’t got to where we want to be sooner.”
Plans for the development of the site coincide with the 20th anniversary of the closure of the steelworks. When it ceased production, Ravenscraig still provided 770 jobs, far short of the 13,000 it had offered at its height.
It is hoped that the development of Ravenscraig will attract up to £425m of private investment and create almost 500 jobs.
Councillor McCabe has knocked back critics who fear building retail facilities in the new town will have a detrimental impact on Motherwell.
He said: “Well there are people with that view but right now there’s approximately £300m that vacates North Lanarkshire by migrating shoppers and no matter what we do we cannot arrest that.
“This is a venture that will hopefully stimulate that back into North Lanarkshire and by doing so it will stimulate businesses around the surrounding towns as well.”
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