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Construction occurring at Edlington Estate, Doncaster Sir Nigel Gresley Square, Waterdale, Doncaster Civic Office

Connecting Rossington – infrastructure helps revive former coal area Jo Miller and Lee Tillman

One 4km long, £56M road is changing the future of an entire community in the South Yorkshire town of Doncaster. The project, known as the Great Yorkshire Way, links the M18 with the A638 south of the town. It runs past Rossington, a town built around one of Yorkshire’s most productive mines. Although the pit survived the 1980s, when many others were closed, output was severely cut and the town suffered serious economic decline, high unemployment and deprivation. At one point, 11 of its 20 wards were in the bottom 10% of UK deprivation indices. The pit was finally closed in 2016.

With the town’s reason for being removed, a new purpose had to be found. Rossington needed to attract investment on a large scale. The abandoned colliery site offered a large area of land. Miners’ housing was typically built close to the pit head, and that meant there were large numbers of people ready to work nearby. The Great Yorkshire Way project offered the opportunity to unlock Rossington’s potential.

Care was taken to make sure that the road which passes Rossington also connected it. From being a cut-off community, Rossington is now well linked into the national motorway network. Employment and economic opportunities are being created at a 560,000m2, £500M new iPort inland freight distribution centre backed by developer Veridan. In all, 5000 new jobs will be created.

Around 20,000 new homes are also being built. Mixed communities are being created, including high-value residential and social housing as well as schools and other necessary community amenities.

The road also provides young people in Rossington with easy access to further education and universities in neighbouring cities. One of HS2’s two High Speed Rail Colleges is located in nearby Doncaster with places for 1050 young people, continuing a proud railway tradition for a town that built the famous Flying Scotsman and the Mallard steam engines. There are plans to extend the new road over the M18 to Robin Hood Airport, the fastest-growing airport outside London. And there are ideas for a new town centre and waterfront business district.

It’s a textbook demonstration of how infrastructure can have socially inclusive outcomes. Because local people could see how they would benefit they fully supported the development in and around Rossington, even though it was one of the largest single planning applications on green belt land in the UK.

The focus is on good growth with benefits that local people can feel. We started from a low base, took a lot of risks and that has paid off.

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