A PROPOSED masterplan for the Rivington Chase development at the Horwich Loco Works site has been created by locals in an effort to move the £262million project forward.
Qualified town planner Stuart Whittle drew up the document on behalf of the Rivington Chase Liaison Committee following widespread concerns that Bluemantle Properties, which is overseeing the 1,700-home scheme, has yet to reveal a detailed strategy for the site.
It comes after the collapse Horwich Vision, a conglomerate consisting of Bluemantle and Orbit Developments that obtained outline permission for the project, left the direction of the development up in the air.
Mr Whittle, a Horwich resident who sits on the liaison committee, said: “At a number of meetings over the past six months the liaison committee has expressed concern about the lack of a masterplan for the site and this requirement has now become more critical with the news that there will be no overall development body.
“In an attempt to move this process along, I have produced a draft masterplan that combines the various plans produced by Horwich Vision at the initial outline planning stage into one comprehensive plan.
“In particular, this plan demonstrates the need for a traffic-free pedestrian/cycleway and open space network running through the site, connecting all the different development zones and linking them to the village centre/square (Heritage Core) and the major open space area to the south.
“This has been presented to Bluemantle and Bolton Council planners in the hope they will adopt it as the necessary blueprint for the site.”
Bluemantle recently published its phasing strategy for the site, which including a map detailing a rough schedule of when it aims to have various areas of the development built.
It revealed the intention to begin constructing the first 100 houses later this year.
But in giving the outline planning permission, Bolton Council planners said development could not begin until a masterplan had been produced.
The intention of the condition was to ensure that the infrastructure was delivered in a co-ordinated manner.
But after the demise of Horwich Vision, there are concerns there is no single body overseeing the project in which there are a rumoured seven developers at least involved.
And there are worries the section 106 agreement, that ensures the impact of the construction on local infrastructure is mitigated for, is now uncertain.
Mr Whittle said the liaison committee has been “at pains” to point out that Bluemantle’s phasing strategy did not constitute a masterplan.
He added: “A masterplan is intended to combine all the key elements of land use including residential, employment, community facilities, highways, landscape and open space into one coherent plan which can then be sub-divided into development zones (phases).
“Without it and a legal obligation to see it implemented, the Rivington Chase village of some 1,700 houses risks being a fragmented development of unconnected housing schemes without any distinctive form or character — a poor legacy for the former Loco Works and all that it stood for in the history and development of Horwich.”
But in a recent statement, Bluemantle chief executive Mark Caldwell said all key stakeholders were “committed to the comprehensive development of the whole scheme”.
He said: “Bluemantle has been working closely with Bolton Council and the other main landowners on the site to prepare updated site wide plans including phasing of highways improvements and the provision of public open space.
“Appropriate legal agreements will be put in place between the council and the relevant landowners to ensure that the comprehensive delivery of the scheme takes place in line with the existing planning consent.
“We look forward to houses finally being built on the first phase of Rivington Chase in the near future after many years of planning and preparation.”