Plan for multi-million pound transformation of Garth Lane site into university centre after £66million Town Deal

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 16 Jul 2018

A multi-million pound university campus could be built on Grimsby’s redundant Garth Lane site - bringing student life to the heart of the town.

A large number of homes are also proposed for the expansive derelict site adjacent to the River Freshney, once-earmarked as a potential home from Grimsby Town FC’s new community stadium.

The bold vision was outlined by the portfolio holder for regeneration, assets, housing and skills, Councillor Peter Wheatley.

Leading councillor outlines a vision for the heart of Grimsby

The deal with both Hull and Lincoln universities to create a Grimsby satellite for the growing industrial innovation and design sectors could mean the site is developed within two years.

The aim is to retain and restore the row of buildings running alongside the river and build new university blocks and homes.

Transforming Garth Lane will be among the first early successful ‘wins’ following the historic Greater Grimsby Town Deal agreed by Government ministers earlier this month.

Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry signed off the £60 million town deal, with Business Minister colleague Lord Henley, paving the way for transformational plans which will bring 8,800 new jobs and 10,000 new homes, as well as regenerating the heart of North East Lincolnshire.


July saw the dawn of a new future for Grimsby with the signing of a massive £60m deal (Image: Grimsby Telegraph)

Councillor Wheatley praised Garth Lane landowner and docks operator, ABP for their crucial role in the Town Deal and said the company had been “fantastic” in securing the investment which will transform Grimsby.

He said the vision is to link the planned new £20million nine-screen Cineworld cinema and associated restaurants and pub outlets along the waterfront to Grimsby docks’ Kasbah.

READ MORE: Greater Grimsby Town Deal is official - Ministers sign up for £60m investment

“It will bring new life to the waterfront and create a heritage trail from Top Town to The Kasbah.

“We don’t want to replicate what has been achieved in Lincoln with its waterside developments, but their’s is a model and we will make it relevant to ourselves,” said the portfolio holder.


The Garth Lane site will be transformed in the next few years

The founding of a new university in the city over 20 years ago is hailed as being the catalyst for transforming Lincoln’s Brayford Pool area and creating thousands of jobs with millions of pounds of investment in the city.

Hoping for a similar transformation, Councillor Wheatley said the construction of a large number of homes would regenerate Grimsby town centre and help offset the demolition of hundreds around Grimsby’s Freeman Street.

Read more: Grimsby 'leads the UK' with Town Deal 1.0 - Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry

He said: “By working with our partners and the Town Deal we have all the ducks in a row and we will be sailing off into the sunset.”

He added: “Quite a lot of housing would bring life back to the town centre, when there are parts like Freeman Street which have just about died on their feet because the housing complexes have been taken down.”


The fire at Garth Lane, Grimsby, June 3, 2009

Parts of the row of buildings along Garth Lane are derelict and have suffered from arson attacks.

The main part of the building – Haven Mill area – is still intact and is a five-storey Grade Two Listed building.

It was first opened in the 1840s as a steam-driven mill, marking the transition from mill stones being used to grind flour to the high-speed metal rollers required to meet demand of growing industrial cities across Britain.

At the time, the river was navigable to the mill, with barges laden with sacks of grain being unloaded into the first-floor granary.

The main section of the building was previously a mixture of businesses, including Grinders nightclub, the Tap & Spile pub, which closed in 2002, and The Granary Restaurant, which closed in March 2010 – the victim of a recession.

In 2003, fires were started in a building which stored cement, and it soon spread to a derelict warehouse.


A view of Garth Lane from roof of Freshney Place car park

In October 2005, the adjoining disused warehouse was turned into an inferno in an arson attack which caused £300,000 worth of damage.

Paper was lit by the arsonist in a top floor storeroom, which contained 20,000 solicitors’ files.

The building, renamed Migar House, was gutted and had been granted Grade Two listed status only a week before the blaze.

Read more: Could Garth Lane site finally become jewel in Grimsby's crown?

The building formed part of the site of a proposed £20 million flats development, which never came to fruition.

At one point, developer Henry Boot reached an agreement with ABP for land adjacent to the mill to be completely redeveloped into a large retail and residential offering, with other plans for another section of the river frontage, including an 88-apartment tower featuring restaurants. The scheme was put on hold when the recession hit.


How the Garth Lane area of Grimsby was going to look under previous plans

Councillor Wheatley said the long-redundant site could have new life thanks to the Town Deal.

“I was elated when it was agreed. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work and I congratulate the officers at the council in showing the Government what outcomes are available with investment in North East Lincolnshire.

“It has also been a great partnership with the Humber and Lincolnshire LEPs and David Ross has been a very good leader along with Lord Haskins. It has been a fantastic effort from all those on the entrepreneurial side of Grimsby. We would like to see the bits that are easier to develop and that is Garth Lane,” told the portfolio holder.


Fish Dock Rd in The Kasbah (Image: Historic England Archive, Alun Bull)

He said: “There are a lot of buildings which have their backs to the waterside, like the bus station and Department of Work and Pensions and it is all brickwork. We want a heritage trail linking the town centre to The Kasbah and highlighting our Corporation Bridge which is a gem in the town.”

He added: “Innovation is the key to it and I look forward to sitting at a table on the waterside enjoying refreshments from one of the new cafes and looking down at the green banks and weeping willow along the river.”

How new colleges can regenerate areas

The proposed new Higher Education centre at Garth Lane could become similar to a university technical college offering students a great deal more than traditional schools. UTCs teach students technical and scientific subjects in a whole new way and are educating the inventors, engineers, scientists and technicians of tomorrow as has happened at The Ron Dearing UTC in Hull.

It is named after the pioneer, born and educated in Hull who went on to become the Chairman of The Post Office. His Dearing Report of 1997 changed the landscape of higher education in the UK.

It is sponsored by some of the biggest names in British industry, including Siemens, BP, Fujitsu and Orsted and started with just a few hundred students and has grown to up to 600 students.



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