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Whilst it has been a quieter time for S.W.A.N., meetings have continued. Those stated goals of keeping a watching brief over development in Westhoughton remain the same. We were pleased with the outcome of the LDF (Local Development Framework) consultation in 2010. It was acknowledged by planners that Westhoughton had born the brunt of development over many years, and that it couldn't really cope with much more building without undue pressure on infrastructure, services and quality of life. Since then there has been a period of relative quiet here in Westhoughton. In light of the 'cessation' of building after the 2008 financial meltdown, it could be construed that much of the development was driven by the credit bubble and an element of speculation.
There have been changes to planning strategy which could put pressure on greenbelt, and moves to boost the economy by government through construction. And whilst concentrated in London and the South East, as reported in the media, there has been something of a building boom, aided by Government schemes such as 'Funding For Lending' and 'Help To Buy' - the latter using taxpayers money to underwrite deposits. Since 2008 banks had been more careful and risk averse, seeking bigger deposits on property loans. With house prices surging again commentators are talking of a bubble.
We continue to monitor developments in Westhoughton. It is acknowledged that some development is always necessary as the population grows. In the draft LDF of October 2011 the following Westhoughton sites were allocated for development over the period until 2026 (458 dwellings):
|Ref||Site||Address||Size (Ha)||Dwellings||Land Type|
|107SC||Part Street||Part Street||1.67||90||Greenfield|
|108SC||James Street||James Street||0.76||31||Brownfield|
|109SC||Land at Leigh Common||Collingwood Way||1.19||43||Greenfield|
|110SC||Armor Holdings Factory||Bolton Road||2.3||104||Brownfield|
|111SC||Roscoes Farm||Bolton Road||3.78||170||Greenfield|
|112SC||Edges Farm||Leigh Road||0.56||20||Brownfield|
The development of Roscoe's Farm - now 99 dwellings - was not unexpected though it may add to traffic problems on Bolton Road, particulalry if the Armour Holdings site (opposite) is developed as allocated. Roscoe's farm is an area of green open land, classified as grey land (formerly used, no longer viable), it also borders Hall Lee Bank Nature Reserve.
A few minor sites have since been added to the revisited plan - Councils were obliged to revisit their LDF plans (now 'Local Plan') in line with the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (Download). All documentation relating to planning policy in Bolton can be found on Bolton Council website
From the Core Strategy Policy (SC1) document: "The council and its partners will (1) Identify a range of housing sites for additional provision of 694 dwellings per annum between 2008 and 2026. (2) At least 80% of housing development will be on previously developed land in accordance with the Regional Spatial Strategy; the Transforming Estates programme will provide up to 20% of housing development on Greenfield land… Outer areas 20-30% of development yield - 2456 dwellings (26.6%) of total yield of 9243 over period… Housing is considered to be an accepted use in the local town centres of Farnworth, Horwich, and Westhoughton through policies RA2, OA1 and OA3 respectively."
We have recently become aware of consultations by Bolton Council and plans by landowner Peel Holdings to develop 'Protected Open Land' at Lee Hall. This would be a new development, vast in size with new roads onto existing roads (Park Road and Chequerbent), and one that would represent a significant increase in the size of the town.
Bowlands HeyAs part of the Bolton Allocation
- Are additional allocations required to meet development needs or otherwise make the Plan sound?
- What additional sites have been proposed through representations and would they be consistent with the Core Strategy?
- If not, is there a justification to include them?
- What would be the practical and procedural implications?
It is clear that having invested in the land and with a more favourable political climate, developers are now looking at green, open sites for development (in this case Lee Hall and Bowlands Hey) - this in addition to previous allocations, all part of a long and rigorous process, that acknowledged the pressures on Westhoughton of previous development.
Bolton Council Allocations Plan Examination
There is no indication that extra allocations are needed, nor are they referenced in any revised documentation relating to Schedule of Main Modifications (to the Allocations Plan) dated June 2014. This is currently being examined by the Planning Inspector for soundness [of the Local Plan, formerly LDF] in light of planning changes put in place by the Government. Allocations Plan Examination.
The Examination Hearings took place between 28th April and 9th May. The above site will be updated with news of the progress of the Examination. The Inspector, Kevin Ward, has concluded that a number of Main Modifications being required to make the submitted plan sound and these require public consultation (see bottom of linked page). These Main Modifications will be published for consultation for the six week period starting 16th June and ending on 25th July 2014.
S.W.A.N. is a group concerned about planning developments in the Westhoughton area.
Due to its location, the availability of land and the ease of getting applications approved, Westhoughton has been favoured area for developers and has borne the brunt of house building within the borough, doubling in size over recent decades.
Such development has changed the character of the town and has impacted on the area in terms of infrastructure and quality of life. There has to be a balance, and development should not only adhere to stated statutory planning policy, but should fit with the needs and desires of the local community.
Formed by local residents, S.W.A.N. has developed expertise in planning law and has sought to represent residents, influence debate and policy, and where necessary oppose inappropriate development.
There have been successes, in particular the establishment of three areas of 'protected open land' around Westhoughton, however, in spite of the lull brought about by the recent recession, we remain vigilant, our mission to: To defend areas of protected open land, and to keep a watching brief over planning issues that affect Westhoughton – and thus its impact upon 'Green Spaces', 'Environment', 'Traffic & Infrastructure' and 'Amenities'.
Westhoughton Town Council:
Town Council meetings covering general admin and planning take place on certain Monday evenings, details of which can be found at
Westhoughton Community Network:
Wed, 17 Sept
Wingates Band Hall
Est. 2011, this independent forum is for local groups providing services and putting on events in Westhoughton.Info...