York Potash has submitted a planning application to the borough council to build temporary accommodation and a park and ride facility in Whitby.
The development, which would consist of one and two storey buildings capable of sleeping 416 people and enough parking spaces for 527 cars, would be used to accommodate in-migrant workers for the proposed potash mine at Dove’s Nest Farm, Sneatonthorpe.
If approved, the facility will be built on Stainsacre Lane and it is estimated that it will be used for a period of approximately four years.
A spokesman for York Potash said: “The temporary construction village has always been a fall-back position and ultimately it may not be needed.
“It will depend on the ability of local accommodation to meet the project’s needs and, importantly, in a way that supports the local tourism industry.”
The company revealed that the park and ride facility is needed to properly coordinate and manage worker traffic to the mine site as they feel that there is insufficient capacity at the existing park and ride in the town.
Once construction has been completed, York Potash’s agreement with owner of the land that the development will be built on is that the site would be returned to its current state – agricultural fields.
Despite this, a number of local residents and business owners have expressed their concerns at the plans.
An online petition has already been set up in opposition to the facility being built at the proposed location and objections to the planning application have been lodged with the borough council.
Laurie Farmer fears that the development will affect her long-established family-run holiday cottage business on Stainsacre Lane which employs three part-time members of staff.
She said: “To me this application takes no regard of the needs of the local community for jobs and the majority of the money from the development during construction will thus not come to the local area.
“Also, the construction of a workers village removes any upside for the local guest houses and B&Bs which may have expected a bonus from the York Potash development during construction.”
Ms Farmer also criticised the plans for ignoring the current development activity at Whitby Business Park, a location which she feels is “much better suited to this type of activity than a new green-field site.”
Mike Shardlow, owner of Beacon Farm and chairman of Sneaton Parish Council feels that the hostility to the proposed development is unneccessary.
“It is too easy to be critical and I think that people have to be realistic,” he said.
“Not all of the specialist personnel needed to undertake the work that will have to be done can be found locally.
“Also, I don’t think it is practical to expect local B & Bs to accommodate all these workers.
“I very much doubt that every guesthouse owner in Whitby wants to be full of workers in muddy boots and dirty overalls.”
Responding to the concerns raised, York Potash said that their preference is for any incoming construction workers to use local accommodation.
A spokesman added: “If this is not available then the company has to have the option to house key workers elsewhere in the local area.
“Similarly, it is also important that existing tourism accommodation isn’t blocked for long periods of time.
“For the shaft sinking work there are only a handful of companies in the world with the experience and ability to deliver the work, so it is likely that they will be bringing a team of specialist personnel to the area.”
York Potash revealed that the reason it is not seeking to build on Whitby’s industrial estate is because “it would be going against attempts by local councils to increase opportunities for local businesses on the park.”