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Last Updated: Monday, 4 August, 2003, 18:03 GMT 19:03 UK
Spa plan for cement works site
Blue Circle Weardale
The cement works closed in 2002
A stricken rural community hit by massive job losses should be redeveloped as a hot spa attraction, regeneration bosses say.

The move follows the closure of the Blue Circle cement works in Weardale.

The hot spa water is produced thousands of feet beneath the surface of the area.

Now a task force has suggested creating a new village as a permanent feature and as an example for other authorities to follow.

The Upper Weardale Task Force, comprising various bodies including development agency One NorthEast, Durham County Council and Wear Valley District Council is set to publish a report into what could be built at the site.

Other ideas include developing renewable energy systems in the area including solar power systems and the use of hydro-electricity to power the new model village.

Plans are also being looked at to re-open an 18-mile stretch of rail track to restore a service to the Weardale area.

The Blue Circle cement works closed a year ago with the loss of 147 jobs and the task force was created with the aim of creating employment in the region and revitalising the economy.

Renewable energy

Task force chairman John Hamilton said: "It will be going out for consultation to the people of Weardale and they can comment on it.

"It's basically a strategy which is very challenging and not everyone will agree with all of it.

"We will show people the plans and they can make their minds up and we will take it from there."

The report will tell residents: "Power generated will be used in a new village built on the old cement works site that will serve as an example to others elsewhere of the operations and benefits of renewable energy.

"The new village would contain a variety of uses, including housing, some of it to be used as permanent homes, others as short term holiday lets as well as accommodating small businesses keen to be associated with the 'green' credentials of the site.

"Visitors would also be attracted to a new hotel within the village and to cafes and craft shops alongside the River Wear.

"Hot springs for bathers, using the naturally hot underground waters, would add to the curiosity of the new development, providing another major unique draw in the UK."




SEE ALSO:
Lafarge to buy Blue Circle
08 Jan 01  |  Business
Cement giant 'open to offers'
11 Sep 00  |  Business


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