AS Chairman of Horwich Heritage, I have been involved with the Rivington Chase development project since it was first proposed over 10 years ago.

Despite a difficult and lengthy ‘gestation’ period, I am pleased to see that development on this historically important (brownfield) site is about to happen.

Bellway Homes are to be commended for being the first developer to commit to building here and although some members of planning committee and the Horwich community are not entirely happy with every aspect of this application (myself included), it is important that a start on this massive regeneration project is made as soon as practically possible.

During this on-going planning process, important lessons have been learnt by the developers and Bolton Council about the need for genuine public consultation and I hope this will now continue. Public pressure has finally led to the production of a masterplan and a Contamination Remediation Strategy as part of the Site Wide Phasing Strategy Application No. 0925/17, and I believe this application is of such importance to the whole development that it should be considered by planning committee rather than under delegated powers as is currently proposed.

There are big issues still to be resolved with this project, not least the building of the main access road through the site, and we have to hope that Bolton Council’s bid for grant funding for this is successful, otherwise the development of the rest of the site could be at risk.

Likewise there will be considerable additional resources needed to tackle contamination across the whole development area. There are also the matters of affordable housing, adequate public open space provision, traffic-free footpaths and cycleways both within and between the development phases and the need for adequate local facilities within the ‘heritage core’ to service the needs of a new ‘village’ community of 5000 people.

This heritage core also needs to have the special design features which will remind future generations that this was once the site of Horwich Loco Works, the place that built the town of Horwich.

The people of Horwich would expect all these requirements to be included in the development briefs issued to the developers of the next phases in order to make sure this is a distinctive development with its own identity rather than just another massive, anonymous housing estate.