Developers have given Melton residents their first look at a major town centre housing scheme on the site currently occupied by one of the biggest local employers.
We reported two months ago that Jeld-Wen was seeking to relocate elsewhere in Melton with the lease for its Snow Hill premises due to expire in 2021.
The company, which employs around 400 people making timber window frames and staircases, is keen to retain its current workforce.
Its landlords, Worthearly Ltd, have put forward proposals to build 280 new homes on the site, which is bordered by Snow Hill Industrial Estate to the west, Kings Road to the east and Melton Country Park to the north.
A public exhibition was held on Friday and Saturday to gauge public opinion on the plans, which would include houses, flats, some affordable properties and a ‘green corridor’, aimed at attractively linking the site and the town with the country park.
Jon Alsop, of Savills, which is acting as agent for the landowner, told the Melton Times at the exhibition: “This is an outline scheme at this stage.
“It’s a key town centre site which is listed as a reserve development site in the council’s Local Plan.
“We are working with the council on their preferred mix of housing for the site.
“There is no hurry at present and a planning application is not likely to be submitted until next year.”
It is hoped that some of the 9.68-hectare (24-acre) site will be retained as employment land, which could include the existing staircase manufacturing plant operated by Jeld-Wen.
Alternatively, if the company relocates everything to a new site, it could be offered for offices or light industrial use.
The developers are mooting the inclusion of a green corridor to the north, as a link to the country park, while Scalford Brook, bordering it to the west, would be retained to encourage wildlife habitats to be created.
Nick Thomas, of Savills, said: “There is already a national cycle route through to the country park and creating this green corridor will make it more attractive to cyclists and walkers and make the park more accessible from the town.
“It’s a good site for housing because of its proximity to the town and the country park.”
Access to the homes, if they are built, would be via Snow Hill, with the existing Stanley Street extended to feed into the development.
No traffic to the site would gain access via King’s Road, which is already busy with vehicles accessing homes, businesses and Brownlow Primary School in that part of town.
The site was originally occupied by a flour mill, which was fed by Scalford Brook, and a brick works back in the 19th century.
It became a saw mill during the years between the First and Second World Wars, before becoming a joinery in the 1960s.
Around this time, the adjoining railway station was closed and Snow Hill was expanded as an employment area for the town.
The majority of buildings used by Jeld-Wen there date back half-a-century and they are deteriorating and considered increasingly unsuitable for modern requirements.
Jeld-Wen is continuing to explore alternative places to relocate to and is understood to be looking at two greenfield sites and one brownfield site, all within 1.5km of the current location.
It has factories at Snow Hill dedicated to constructing timber windows, door sets and patio door sets and another which is the largest volume production facility for timber stairs in the UK.
It also has a mill at Thorpe Road, which supplies components to the other sites, and an administration centre in Kings Road.
A spokesperson said: “Currently we are in the early stages of looking at alternative locations within the Melton area as a potential new site for our factory.
“We are fortunate to have an experienced and valued workforce in Melton and our wish is to remain based in the area.”