CONTAMINATION by asbestos, further traffic disruption and the lack of schools were discussed by Horwich residents at a meeting about the proposed development of the former Loco Works site.

More than 150 people packed into a function room at the Horwich RMI club to hear about the Rivington Chase scheme, which if approved will see a new “town” of 1,700 new homes built on brownfield land.

Developers Horwich Vision said it believes the proposals could regenerate the area and bring in an extra £19 million to local business.

But at Monday's open meeting, people voiced opposition, saying the council and planners were not listening to their concerns over the increased pressure of traffic and the potential risk to health, due to the “unknown” level of asbestos in the former factory ground.

Horwich Vision said it planned to spend £200,000 investigating contam-ination by asbestos and cyanide deposits in the area — which has about 160 bore holes — and is working with three former workers to find the areas most affected.

But Barry Jubb, who lives downhill from the development, said the risk of potential future birth deformities was substantial.

He added: “We are talking about moving hundreds and hundreds of tonnes of this stuff, and we don’t know where it is. You can’t take the risk.

“The buck stops with you. You make this decision on informed information that I will hand over to you.”

Colin Sherrington, who lives in Stock Park, also called for an independent traffic survey to be carried out before planning permission is given.

He said: “My personal surveys show the Loco Works entrance junction already to have serious problems during afternoon rush hour and everyone already suffers delays when travelling to Bolton, Middlebrook, Parkway or the motorway.

“All current ideas to solve the additional traffic seem to be trying to fit more cars on the same road, slowing traffic down even more.”

Horwich Town Council will decide whether to formally support the scheme at tomorrow’s meeting, before a decision is taken by Bolton Council.

Chairman of the meeting, Cllr Kevin McKeon, said he was satisfied that the developers were aware of the issues surrounding asbestos.

He added: “It is a really significant issue that has to be dealt with.

“I hope you feel that you can trust us and I hope this meeting shows we are listening, and we will do our best to make sure things go well.”