EMPLOYMENT will take centre stage of a scheme to bring jobs back to a once-thriving site where more than 1,500 worked - after initial plans to build homes were shelved.

The historic David Brown plant, on Green Road in Penistone, shut at the end of last year when its former owner, SPX, concentrated its production at another UK plant.

Mock-ups obtained by the Chronicle earlier this year showed a blueprint detailing a community hub, apartments, flats and houses, but Barnsley-based owner Fairbank Investments confirmed that emphasis will instead be placed on bringing jobs back to the site.

Managing director Antony Green said: “We’re keen to give back to the local area as we’re from here, we still live here and we want this site to become a thriving hub for employment.

“We’ll be renting units out to keep employment in the area, which will allow Penistone businesses to grow while keeping the heritage of the David Brown site going.”

Opened by shipmaker Cammell Laird in the late 19th century, the site was mothballed in 1930 but taken over by industrialist Sir David Brown in 1935.

Sir David’s business empire included tractor and gearbox manufacturing operations and carmaker Aston Martin, whose models still include his initials.

He set up a foundry, pumps and fabrication operations in Penistone which produced bullet-proof castings during the Second World War and later specialised in manufacturing pumps for the global oil and gas industry.

Penistone West’s Coun Hannah Kitching also favours the site being used for employment.

“This site is ‘urban fabric’ within the local plan and is not allocated for housing,” she said.

“It is important to note that this site has been a valuable source of employment for Penistone residents, and jobs are just as important as houses.

“I was saddened when the site closed last year, resulting in job losses, so I wish to see this site retained for employment purposes as outlined in the local plan.”