North East Wales

Old RAF Sealand site set for 5,000 jobs and 1,100 homes

A multimillion-pound master plan to turn Flintshire's old RAF Sealand site into a major housing, retail and commercial park has been unveiled.

In September it was confirmed some of vacant Deeside site will be used for an enterprise zone, creating 5,000 jobs.

Now, the rest of the project has been revealed and plans include 1,100 houses, 50,000 sq ft of retail space and community and leisure facilities.

A formal planning application has yet to be submitted by developers.

The plans for the Northern Gateway project have been drawn up by developer Praxis Real Estate Management (PREM) which says the site will "attract major inward investment" to the area over the next 10 years.

It is known as the "Northern Gateway", which Flintshire council's regeneration department describe as the county's main employment site for the next 15 years.

Councillor Matt Wright, Flintshire's executive member for regeneration and tourism, said: "Despite the recession there is a lot of interest from companies.

"We want this to be the new Deeside Industrial Park."

'Good balance'

He said the existing industrial estate has a current occupancy rate of 90% "so we need major sites for more companies".

Deeside Industrial Park was established after the sprawling Shotton steelworks site was dramatically cut back, with 6,500 workers made redundant in 1980.

The story of RAF Sealand began in 1917 when a local man started a private flying school on fields rented from the steelworks.

But it was sequestered by the Royal Flying Corps which became Royal Air Force a year later.

It closed in 2006 although there is still a Defence Avionics Repair Agency on part of the site.

PREM development manager Peter Disley said they were making a significant investment in Deeside.

He said Northern Gateway would offer a good balance of housing and commercial space and "critically provides a sound platform to attract new jobs as well as safeguarding existing ones".

'Ghost town'

Askar Sheibani, chair of the Deeside Industrial Park Forum, said this summer that Deeside was at risk of becoming like a "ghost town" if it had not been awarded enterprise zone status this summer.

Deeside was one of five enterprise zones announced by the Welsh Government.

It is hoped up to 5,000 jobs will be created at the site which will be dedicated to advanced manufacturing.

Image caption Up to 5,000 jobs could be created dedicated to advanced manufacturing

Mr Sheibani, chief executive of Comtek, which is based on Deeside Industrial Park, said: "If we didn't get this enterprise zone it would have been disastrous for Deeside.

"There would have been a migration of businesses from Deeside to Wirral, to Warrington, and we could have ended up in a ghost town situation."

The masterplan is online and on show at nearby Days Hotel Chester North, Welsh Road, Sealand, between Thursday and Saturday when officials will also be available to answer questions.

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