After the closure of the colliery, the west end of Rossington lay mainly dormant until 2006/07 proposals were made to create a freight railport and a major housing development on land that would cover the demolition of the colliery buildings and the land surrounding, towards the Junction 3 of the M18 motorway. The proposals changed over the ensuing years, but were tied into the development of the road that would take traffic from the M18 to the airport (Finningley and Rossington Regeneration Route Scheme – FARRS) and this was opened in 2016 as the Great Yorkshire Way, offering an alternative route from Rossington where a western road to leave the village had not been in existence in living memory. As well as the housing development, the eventual plan for the logistics and distribution area, and the railport, was calculated to offer up to 5000 jobs to a much-deprived area of Doncaster, which includes Rossington. (Up to 2000 people had been employed at the pit in its heyday, and nothing had taken its place as a major employer). In addition, the largely green belt and agricultural land will accommodate a country park, protecting the environmental and ecological elements for the future.
Work on the warehousing units began in 2015 with the developer, Verdion, providing space for a major player, Amazon, to expand their business. Fellowes have moved their UK Headquarters to the site from their previous premises in Armthorpe in 2016. To the rear of the warehousing, work also began on building the railport which will service the site, using what was the mineral line spur to the colliery, and, as this will take traffic from the roads, this too is part of the environmental approach to growth in the area. CEVA, a large logistics company has also taken space on the site and Amazon have taken occupancy of their second unit on the site.
Whilst the IPort is ongoing, so is the housing development, and now a winding road extends West End Lane to the Great Yorkshire way, and passes the first estates of private housing, and there are bus services passing down the road to and from Doncaster, with a quicker travel time to the M18 or into town from Rossington for both public and private transport. The railport element is small scale and links to the larger International Railport nearer to the town.
The IPort itself will cover 337 acres, and whilst the early development is logistics and warehousing, the plan allows for the easy access via the new road to the A1 and M1, and to the M18 leading to the M62. One of the hopes is that engineering will return to Doncaster on the site. Marketing by the developers continues and it was going well until the vote to stay or leave the European community – Brexit. This has caused consideration by all sectors for their growth strategies, and not just for the IPort – it is across the UK: business and industry are holding their breath until the outcome of negotiations to leave the EU are complete. It is accepted that there will be up to 10 years of growth in the area, and Doncaster MBC has committed to the site, supporting the growth of infrastructure and jobs, and also supporting what has become the recruitment and training for the jobs for the site, but also for the rest of the area. The jobs and training will not just be for pickers and packers for distribution, and not just for the manual sector: managers and supervisors will be needed too. Help has been given with CV writing for those heading to be interviewed for jobs at the IPort.
As part of the recruitment arm of the IPort, the iPort Academy based at the Welfare has become the hub for networking with the businesses moving on to the area, but also it works to break down the barriers of up to 3 generations of those only able to claim benefits, as no jobs have been available. This is accepted as one of the
reasons why young people as school-leavers have low expectations of finding work, and the team at the iPort Academy has been working with students at All Saints to make them aware of the growing opportunities, and raising those expectations. There are those who would want to stay local even if heading to college or university. Many graduates return to the area but are unable to secure a job because their education does not match the local needs. Guidance is being given to those young people who are considering higher education to look at studies that do match the needs whilst fulfilling their own career aspirations.
Whilst the country park element of the development of the site is the last one to start, Rossington can look forward to major growth in all aspects, and the whole area with the IPort, the housing, the FARRS route offers optimism for the future for jobs, for the environment and for recreation.