15th Dec 21
The last few months have seen much activity in the form of, mainly actions by Rochdale Council and their aspirations to change the look and feel of our village.
Firstly, the former AKZO site was recently found to be still heavily contaminated, despite the Council accepting that it was cleared of asbestos and chemical contamination in a report of 7th January 2015.
Homes England (H.M. Govt’s Housing and Communities Agency) purchased the site at the request of Rochdale Council in 2015, at a cost of £10million+ of public money.
We have worked closely with them; and their now preferred developers Vistry, for some time, mainly providing local knowledge and information.
However, since the disclosure that the site is still heavily contaminated and our protestations to that effect, their engagement with us seems to have dwindled to almost nothing. One can only assume that they have had to ‘go back to the drawing board’. Ironically, following further investigations by us, the Birchingley Manor site of another potential 40+ dwellings has been found to contain the exact identical AKZO contamination of, Amosite and Chrysotile asbestos, along with the very alarming discovery of Dibenz-a-h-anthracene! Watch this space.
No-one disagrees that Littleborough needs affordable housing but Rochdale Boroughwide Housing seem to be having an onslaught of invading Littleborough, with the newly revived planning application for the Brown St. development of 47 dwellings (apartments) on the site of a current business which has now been blighted by the application and RBH reneging on a non-disclosure agreement, by going public with their intentions.
Added to that, they [RBH] intend to build 20 dwellings on land at Stansfield, currently an open green space and play area. When in October, we held a meeting with local residents (to which we invited RBH, who declined to attend and even suggested that we cancel the meeting) there was furious opposition to the proposal from 100% of the attendees.
To move on; speculative plans have been drawn up by a potential developer for 40+ dwellings on Greenbelt land at Durn, Blackstone Edge Rd. A Freedom of Information request revealed that a ‘pre-application meeting’ has taken place between the Council and a developer.
The development of affordable housing on the former Phoenix Ironworks site, Newall St., is owned by Oldham Council’s equivalent of RBH. We have been advised that a local person has applied for one of the dwellings and have been refused as they are “not an Oldham resident”.
We now come to the highly contentious Littleborough SPD, of which by now, you should be more than aware of.
Rochdale Council held x3 so called ‘consultation’ meetings and having seen the overwhelming opposition to scheme, have now gone away to collate the responses; the results of which are not expected until late January 2022.
Within the scheme, hardly any provision of parking facilities for shoppers visiting local businesses were considered.
Meanwhile, it is possible for the Council to continue to pass individual planning applications, for what may seem insignificant numbers of houses here and there, but not one jot of effort ever goes into improving Littleborough’s already over-capacity infrastructure. Those insignificant numbers all add up. Never mind schools, doctors and dentists, with the overloaded road infrastructure as it currently is, you would never be able to get to those schools, doctors and dentists etc.
We encourage every concerned resident and business owner to lobby the local councillors on the above matters and to also attend all relevant, publicly accessible council meetings at the Council’s Riverside offices.
Each individual objection or concern counts as exactly that; rather than one group effort which will only be counted as one. Please feel free to contact us and/or visit our website and Facebook page.
19th Nov 21
Via local social media we have very recently become aware of a proposal by Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, to build 40 apartments at Brown St. in the centre of Littleborough.
If the architects CGI images are to be believed then the project is not in-keeping with other recently built properties in the area; namely, the Hare Hill Rd. development at the former mill site
Similarly, not in-keeping with the Littleborough Town Design Statement; a significant Supplementary Planning Guidance document adopted by Rochdale council which was produced by the Trust many years ago.
Additionally, does this project link up in any way with the Littleborough SPD proposals for the centre of Littleborough?
It would appear that neither Rochdale Council, nor RBH (a separate company) are not adhering to several national principles; The Gunning Principles; and importantly, the National Model Design Codes which forms part of the Government's planning practice guidance and expands on the ten characteristics of good design.
We intend to make representations at appropriate forums to ask these questions, along with attempting to gain clarification on a number of other important issues which the Trust are involved in; one example being:
We have been in touch with the relevant Council departments and ideally, they want questions submitting by email prior to next Friday's SPD consultation meeting to basically attempt to better answer anyone's queries and save the chaotic scenarios of the last two at Hare Hill House. It should work out better that way and to everyone's advantage, by hopefully getting some of the answers. However, the down side to that is that only the individuals will get the answers and will not be heard by all attendees. You can email your questions to email@example.com
6th Nov 21
Cllr. John Blundell, who is a Littleborough resident, but not a Littleborough councillor has taken exception to the Trust's existence in the following form;
** "The trust has acted 'childishly' in ridiculing images it knows are artist's impressions. That to produce Google-Street view realistic images would cost the council thousands of pounds and that Rochdale is one of the few that publishes these sorts of illustrations as part of its consultations.
Littleborough Civic Trust is supposed to be a charitable trust which looks after the built environment of Littleborough but has failed to take the consultation seriously or engage in an appropriate manner with the council. The Trust has no ideas of its own and has effectively become irrelevant.
The Trust is politically motivated and seeks to undermine the council due to its hatred of the Labour Party, which is the controlling group on the council" **
We [The Trust] have taken the SPD consultation very seriously, extensively engaging with council officers on both the 18th and 21st October; even asking for further consultation. We have taken it so seriously that we recently took part in a webinar with the Govt's Chief Planner.
The Trust believe they are entitled to take the council to account on any matter affecting Littleborough irrespective of the council’s political colour. There is no wish or desire within the Trust for political ping-pong.
The inaccurate CGI images and plan drawings will already have cost the council a fortune.
Cllr Blundell was not present at either session at Hare Hill House but was present at two of the three workshops held in 2020 when the Littleborough Station masterplan was being discussed. There was no community engagement at that stage!
Littleborough Civic Trust has been established for 50 years and is made up of former and current very professional people who take their roles extremely seriously, in representing the people of Littleborough.
W/C 1st Nov 21
This week we have formally requested the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (Michael Gove) to begin a process named 'Call In' the AKZO planning application, (21/01146/FUL) due to information contained previously in our Facebook posts and on the council's planning portal.
His department quickly acknowledged our request and have informed Rochdale Council to that effect and will now monitor the progress of the application until such time that if the council are minded to approve the application, it is at that point that the request to 'call it in' will be considered.
W/C 25th Oct 21
On Monday 18th and Thursday 21st October, we attended what RBC called a ‘consultation’ on the Littleborough SPD. The venue was Hare Hill House. The Monday session was extremely busy from the word go. Three council officers were in attendance and supposedly available to ask questions of. However, demand from local residents and business owners was such that not much meaningful information could be gleaned. Two ward councillors attended; one only very briefly, thus Cllr. Hartley was left to field questions and answered them with a genuine concerned heart.
Thursday’s ‘consultation’ was, albeit quite busy, less well attended and as such gave attendees a better opportunity to put questions to the council officers. None of the ward councillors or those involved with the SPD were evident.
If you read the Littleborough SPD Consultation Document, it states that in 2020, three workshops were held. In early 2020, Rochdale Borough Council (RBC) and the GM Stations Alliance commissioned WSP and Broadway Malyan to prepare a masterplan for the Littleborough Station area and identify a vision and priorities in order for the aspirations of the Council to be realised.
Where was the local input into this first so-called workshop held April 2020? When asked on Thurs 21st, the Head of RBC’s Planning Dept stated that it comprised of “people who had visited Littleborough”. Unbelievable! When pressed he confirmed that the bodies mentioned in the above paragraph, were what he was referring to.
So basically, they ‘popped’ into Littleborough; had a quick look around and then commissioned the plan drawings that were on show at Hare Hill House. Supposedly to scale, they made no sense whatsoever, Mickey Mouse cartoonists spring to mind. Yes, they were that laughable.
However, to quote p.5 of the consultation document re the April workshop, “The workshop sought to utilise the extensive local knowledge of the attendees to identify constraints and opportunities”.
How many ‘attendees’, comprised exclusively from: Network Rail; Broadway Malyan; GMCA; LCA Property; WSP and others, including one Cllr. Blundell and council officers doing what they’re told all of whom can essentially be classed as ‘biased’, had that extensive local knowledge?
Computer Generated Images (CGI) showed dwellings that were supposed to be in keeping with Littleborough’s unique identity. They were more like entries to a competition which would win prizes for architects. Superimposing tiny clips of Littleborough onto dreamt-up visions of their own. Other photographic tricks were also evident and those facts were pointed out to the council officers and asked who they were trying to fool.
One council officer from RBC Highways Dept. was asked by us why the Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040 document contained nothing at all for Littleborough He said that “all this is Littleborough’s part of it”. He was pressed on the matter that if that were the case, then why was it not therefore included at the time of publication? A question he couldn’t answer, and again, he too also was asked who they were trying to fool.
He was also asked if the A58 at Church St., which they propose to narrow, was designated as a Gtr. Manchester arterial route. His answer to that was “definitely”. How then, can they narrow it as in emergency planning circles it forms one of several arterial routes out of Gtr. Manchester, as defined in what is called the ‘Doomsday Scenario’. If a large bomb (of varying types) was to be dropped on Manchester, it provides a route for inhabitants to evacuate to the top of Blackstone Edge for instance; as do other Gtr. Manchester arterial routes; example ~ Peak District.
Other ‘workshops’ were held in May and August 2020, again with no local community involvement, but ‘collaboration’ between the above.
We [The Trust] recently took part in a webinar with Joanna Averley, The Govt's Chief Planner from The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. We were informed that local authorities must now adhere to its National Model Design Codes, which necessitates local community involvement. This document is ‘live’ and in the case of Littleborough SPD, Rochdale Council, by its actions to date, are in breach of it.
Some weeks ago, we attempted to become involved in what is now (re-named) the Calder Valley Community Rail Partnership; and no prizes for guessing how it links into the Littleborough SPD. It stresses that communities should be involved. Have we been? Again, no prizes for guessing the answer.
RBC’s Head of Planning was also asked why the former gas works site had not been considered in the plan as a much-needed car park. His reply “we have to draw a line somewhere”. So those who visited Littleborough with their ‘extensive knowledge’ knew where to draw the line then?
Cllr Emsley said publicly 2/3 years ago that there was no money to remediate, landscape and build a car park there. Well, there must be lots of it swilling about now. We will in the coming weeks and months, continue to strive for transparency, truth and involvement with RBC.
W/c 18th Oct 21
We held our monthly committee meeting on the evening of Monday 11th October. The meeting is normally attended by our trustees and members. However, given the fact that the Littleborough SPD is now out for its consultation period, we welcomed a considerable number of concerned residents and business owners who wished to express their concerns on the matter. The consultation period ends on 21/11/21, so make your views known.
Also discussed was the former AKZO site and Land at Stansfield, the latter of which we held a very well attended public meeting Sat. 16th Oct at St. James’ Church Calderbrook at 1pm. Further details to follow.
We have offered to assist further by raising residents and business owner’s concerns should the Council wish to engage. Please feel free to contact us, should you so wish.
27th Sept 21
We have recently obtained information that both Taylor Wimpey and Rochdale Council both deny that the plans for the so called 'Roch Valley' development are being withdrawn. Taylor Wimpey say that their application remains 'live'. But our sources say otherwise and it will be withdrawn and a new application will be submitted. This accounts for the 'live' status.However, to quote Taylor Wimpey; " We are continuing to work with Rochdale Council planning officers to resolve some issues raised during consultation meetings, but we remain committed to bringing forward much needed housing".
The original planning application [19/00881/FUL] was validated at the time in October 2019 but is now outside the determination deadline. As a result, Taylor Wimpey will not have to pay the application fees again. Enquiries made by Littleborough Civic Trust as to the status is, quote "awaiting decision".
Very recently, 27th August 2021, it has been published that Hollingworth Lake has been awarded by, and to quote TripAdvisor "Hollingworth Lake in Littleborough has been recognised as a 2021 Travellers’ Choice award winner, ranked in the top 10% of attractions worldwide.' A stunning accolade indeed, [and it states 'Littleborough', not Rochdale; Hurrah] but how will Rochdale Council planning officers and [importantly] the planning committee made up of councillors, square that with all the proposed (and ongoing) developments for Littleborough?
Additionally, Vistry; the developers for the AKZO site remain adamant to use historical traffic survey data in their as yet awaited planning application and state that the Taylor Wimpey proposal is a 'committed development' contained within when it is most definitely not.
Your conclusions on the above and your future actions to demand the truth; both collectively and individually, are extremely important for the future of our village.
Some considerable time ago, we emailed the Council’s Chief Planning Officer, along with all the members of the Planning and Licensing Committee regarding our ongoing concern with ‘planning by stealth’’, 10 houses here; 4 there; 15 there; 6 here, 45 there, etc. as this is what the Councill are doing; with their consistent and blatant disregard of the infrastructure impact on local residents. On each and every occassion, he does not reply.
We have contacted the Council with a view to becoming with the Calder Valley Community Rail Partnership; a collaboration between Rochdale and Calderdale Councils, who promote that they wish involvement from Community Groups. Time spent by the council on this projest is limited and will probably take some considerable time to progress.
Our Flood Resilience sub-committee have strengthened links with the Church to provide a refuge in the event of any future major flooding event.
Please click here to view the preface to this document.
Please click here to view the document.
Please click here to view the document.
On Wednesday 9th June we met, in person instead of Zoom, with Vistry, the chosen developers for the former AKZO site.
On site were two architects and their Planning Development Manager and so we took the opportunity to show them around Littleborough, to enable them to get a ‘feel’ for the village and also show them how other recent building developments had been constructed ‘in keeping’ with the surroundings.
We provided them with a hard copy of the Littleborough Town Design Statement, but had previously made them aware of it via the Trust’s website where it can be found in its entirety. It is classed as Supplementary Planning Guidance, adopted by the Council in 2004.
We also imparted our local knowledge of various relevant issues; not least the traffic situation. As we stood at the site, around 11.30am, Hollingworth Rd traffic was extremely busy even at that time, and again we explained in vivid detail what it was like at rush hour.
As mentioned previously, they [Vistry] intend to use the traffic survey done in 2011, which does not really fit the bill. But they state that post-pandemic traffic will be lighter. A fact we do not accept.
It also doesn’t include any weekend tourist traffic to/from Hollingworth Lake; plus, through traffic to/from West Yorkshire, which we stressed both are major factors.
They intend to put in an initial planning application this month and so we informed them that, whilst we have no desire to prevent the brownfield development, it is highly likely we would object on the traffic grounds alone.
Another point of note is that they informed us that, whilst they are willing to build much more, Rochdale Council’s Planning Dept. only want 15% of the development to be ‘affordable housing’, apparently preferring instead, 4/5 bed houses. We were asked to support them in their attempt to increase that percentage.
Therefore, when the new planning application is submitted any member of the public will be able to object/support or make neutral comments on the Council’s planning portal. However, the majority of the public are probably not aware that any comments made will not be available to view online.
This has been the subject of concern previously as the planning file is a public document. The Council quote the General Data Protection Regulations as their reason for not publishing the text of any comments. The Developers were made aware of this and expressed their own concerns stating that other Local Authorities do not take that view. All that is required is redaction of any personal/medical data which could identify the individuals. The Trust have already, and will be making further representations regarding this and suggest that those wishing to comment should do the same.
To conclude, all parties agreed that it had been a very useful and constructive meeting and that more would follow.
Following close working relationships with Homes England (H.M. Govt. Housing & Communities Agency) since April 2018, we today 28th May 2021 we met with the developers and their planning consultants who have been chosen, regarding the future of the former Akzo Nobel site Hollingworth Rd., Littleborough, who informed us that since they began enabling works for the site they clarified that they would be putting in a planning application in June 2021, but due to it having to be a totally new application they would be starting from scratch with renewed Coal Mining Risk Assessments, Traffic Assessments, water courses/sources and an Ecology survey of the site in the next few months.
No work is likely to commence until probably Spring 2022 as they have yet to decide a final design plan and consider the options to comply with the Local Planning Authorities policy on Affordable Housing.
They have committed to continuing to discuss the scheme with Littleborough Civic Trust to ensure community engagement during the planning and delivery process and further meetings with them are scheduled to ensure that as far as reasonably possible, the wishes and concerns of the residents of Littleborough are addressed.
They have taken heed of the Civic Trust’s information and concerns, including the Littleborough Town Design Statement, the link to which is on this page. A very substantial document (28mb), formulated by the Trust in 2004 and adopted by Rochdale Council at the time as 'supplementary planning guidance', hence they are beginning the application process again in its entirety.
We have to recognise the fact that it is actually a brownfield site and does not impinge on any green belt land. We did though stress very thoroughly that the roads and infrastructure are already at over-capacity levels. We suggested that any Section 106 monies offered by them go into improving what can be improved to the benefit of residents, instead of planting tress as a gesture. (A practice often used by some developers). They were acutely aware of the traffic situation due to the feedback they had received following their recent leaflet drop in the locality. We couldn't have stressed any more than we did, regarding the traffic situation
We are looking forward to maintaining a close working relationship with them prior to, and throughout the planning phase through to the construction of the development.