PLANS for a derelict former steelworks site have taken a step forward.

The 14 acre site in Wolsingham has lain derelict for 11 years, but now a newly formed company will take responsibility for the planning application that will support its re-use.

A spokesman for BXB Wolsingham Limited, which has been formed by brownfield experts to consider redevelopment options for the site, said that talks with Durham County Council have already started.

The former steelworks has been identified in the council’s Local Plan as suitable for housing, with possible employment uses.

Gary Goodman of BXB said that all options are on the table, adding: “We’ve opened talks with the county council and are committed to working with stakeholders going forward as we crystallise our thinking about what is best for the site and for Wolsingham.”

County Councillor John Shuttleworth said that development of the derlict site was long overdue.

He said he didn't mind what is done with the site "as long as local people are happy and we get rid of the eyesore”.

Gordon Dobson, from Woslingham Parish council, said he was not aware of the plans but said it was welcomed.

“The only thing that puts developers off is the possible ground contamination,” he added.

Mr Goodman said: “The site has some technical challenges around its ground conditions as a result of its former use so there’s a bit of work to do to understand this better before we move forward.”

Charles Attwood founded the ironworks in Wolsingham and patented a new method of steelmaking. The works were a major employer in Wolsingham from 1864, producing steel from Weardale iron ore.

When Attwood died his nephew took over the company and traded as John Rogerson and Co until 1930.

Steel castings were produced for use in both shipbuilding and munitions and it the works made a big contribution to both world wars.

Electric arc furnaces were installed around 1950 but trade declined and the works closed in 1984. Small scale operations still continued until its final closure and demolition in 2008.

The site is positioned south towards the River Wear and offers views across rolling open countryside from the eastern edge of Wolsingham. The Weardale railway runs at the bottom of the site across the river and there is an old engine depot next to the site which used to serve the steelworks.