Don’t let one of Fleetwood’s prime pieces of land go to waste.
That was the message this week as a number of voices raised concerns about the former Stena freight ferry site, which has lain empty and derelict since the firm left Fleetwood in December 2010.
Landlord Associated British Ports (ABP) says it is marketing the site for port development, but has revealed no further details.
Alan Marsh, the former Fleetwood Town Council chairman who has now left the council, says the site has massive potential but fears it could be a wasteland for years.
Mr Marsh, who has frequently pressed for more job opportunities for Fleetwood, said: “ABP would need to look at the marketing potential, the costs and grants available to see what can be done to help bring in potential business.
“The site would be perfect for light industry - everything is in place; the river, the transport.
“I think it needs a lot of heads to work together, for everyone’s benefit, and maybe even involve government level talks.”
However, there have also been calls to ensure the land is retained for purely port activities.
There had been a freight ferry operation on the site for many decades, prior to the closure which saw 140 jobs lost overall, 62 in Fleetwood.
From 1975 there was a roll on/roll off ferry, first with Pandoro, latterly with Stena.
Many years earlier, in 1928, there was outcry in Fleetwood when the Belfast ferry boast ceased, with a significant loss of jobs.
Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw says ABP has been looking at the possibility of using the land to repair the giant propellers of windfarms, with new developments off the Isle of man being considered.
He said: “Several months ago I know ABP were discussing it.
“The land is too small for full scale manufacturing, but if the fish park happened and the current processing firms moved to it, it would triple ABP’s dock land and provide even more potential.”
A number of Fleetwood residents have also called on land owner APB to try to do something with the vacant site of the ferry operation, off The Esplanade.
They point out that the site occupies prime land overlooking the Wyre estuary, and say it is going to waste by simply laying dormant.
George McDonell, of Beach Road, Fleetwood, said: “I would like to know what plans Associated British Ports has for it. After all, it’s a long time since Stena went. It seems a shocking waste of prime land.”
And former Fleetwood man Geoff Wright, of Cumberland Avenue, Cleveleys, said: “It is very disheartening to see this site looking like a wasteland. I would love to see some new enterprise come to Fleetwood.”
However, Peggy Whittaker, a former Labour councillor on Wyre who also headed the Fleetwood branch of the British Fishermen’s Association, said: “I would not like to see any old business set up there. It should be retained for maritime-related activities. Fleetwood still has a port and I would like to see the port itself revived, and dredging of the channel started again.”
An ABP spokesperson commented: “ABP continues to market the site for port development.”