The long-awaited regeneration of a derelict steelworks in the Durham Dales can now commence following receipt of planning approval.

The 14-acre site has blighted the pretty Weardale village of Wolsingham and is now set to be transformed with 151 new homes and the refurbishment of the attractive stone factory offices into new workspace.

“This is great news for the village and for the area’s wider economy and I’m delighted for everyone who has backed our proposals,” said Gary Goodman of developer BXB, which specialises in the regeneration difficult derelict sites.  “It will be particularly pleasing to see the old works offices refurbished as it’s a lovely building that fits in with the wider village,” he added.

Mr Goodman went on to confirm that a major national house-builder is closing in on the acquisition of the site.

“I can confirm that we expect to sell the housing element of the site to a national house-builder, which will bring an exciting range of high-quality homes to the village, boosting local trade and sustaining school rolls,” said Mr Goodman.

Commenting on the news, county councillor Anita Savory, said:

“After the loss of the Wolsingham Steelworks several years ago the site has remained dormant and has become derelict and an eyesore. It is welcome news that the site will now be utilised for housing and create much needed jobs in Weardale throughout the project.”

Euan Connolly of Nexus Planning, who steered the application through the planning system, said:

“The public has always been behind the proposals but a range of issue on this complex, brownfield site had to be worked through. We’re pleased with the outcome.”

As part of the consent, the existing junction with Durham Road would be upgraded, along with contributions towards road safety and pedestrian improvements, as well as public transport.

The steelworks, abandoned in 2008 after 144 years of continuous operation, made top quality steel from high-grade Weardale ore for use in the ship-building industries on Wearside.