LOCAL leaders have praised a Barnsley firm for beginning its ambitious expansion plan which will provide ‘much-needed’ jobs in a former pit village.

Symphony Group, a business already situated at Pen Hill Estate on Park Spring Road, Grimethorpe, received planning permission earlier this year for an additional 300,000sq ft premises.

Originally moving their headquarters to the estate in 2009, additional areas of the wider site were developed in the following years.

A total of 150 full-time jobs are set to be created as a result of the kitchen specialist firm’s expansion, which saw construction workers arrive at the site this week.

A Symphony spokesperson said: “The new factory will increase storage and manufacturing capacity, along with enabling the renewal of key equipment, to then allow us to fulfil plans for growth.

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“The timescale for construction and fit-out of the new building is estimated to be 18 months with the expectation that the new factory will be fully operational during the early part of 2023.”

The site is located on the historic former Grimethorpe Colliery which operated from 1894 until its closure in May 1993.

“The site was subsequently reclaimed and landscaped to provide industrial development plots,” the spokesperson added.

“The new building has been designed to tie in with the existing factory in appearance, with similar features and materials.

“Symphony control the whole of the site and it makes architectural sense to create a ‘campus’ of buildings that match each other.”

Coun Jeff Ennis, who represents the North East ward, said the firm came under a lot of scrutiny from concerned local residents upon moving their previous West Yorskhire base.

But since then he says Symphony bosses have been working in the best interest of locals and sees the new warehouse and its opportunities as ‘absolutely fantastic’.

He told the Chronicle: “It’s quite clear that Symphony are now a well-established company in Grimethorpe and they moved here a while back.

“Initially they came under a lot of criticism for bringing their workforce from West Yorkshire and there wasn’t much opportunity for locals - that’s all changed now and there’s lots of employment for residents in the area.

“I’d imagine the vast majority of these jobs will go to people in the area - it’s absolutely fantastic for the local economy.”

Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock praised the firm’s expansion.

She added: “Over the last year the pandemic has hit our economy hard.

”The creation of 150 new local jobs in Grimethorpe on a former colliery site is therefore welcome news for local residents.”