UPDATED: Tempers flare as scores turn up to fiery meeting on Horwich Loco Works plans
DEVELOPERS were “laughed off” at a heated planning meeting to discuss controversial plans to turn the former Horwich Loco Works into a new 1,700-home town called Rivington Chase.
The meeting of Horwich Town Council's planning committee — held at St John's Church Hall in Victoria Road to accomodate close to 100 people — descended into chaos as councillors had to shout to be heard over angry residents.
An urgent open meeting will now be devoted purely to Horwich Loco Works with the town council deferring any decision to support or object to the plans until then.
Scores of Horwich locals attempted to voice fears about the plans, focussing mainly on the potential volume of traffic that could be coming to the areas surrounding the development.
Questions were also raised about effects on healthcare, education and sporting facilities.
Barry Jubb said: “This has been forced upon us and this is where the system lets us down — nothing has been taken into account about the traffic that will be on Chorley New Road.”
John Halliwell added: “How many of the developers live locally? They simply don’t know about the roads around here.”
Members of developers Horwich Vision were heckled and laughed at by residents as they tried to explain their proposals.
Simon Richards of Cass Associates, which has worked on the plans, said: “There will be a range of benefits including open space, recreation areas and amenities.
“This development will enhance the area and be an improvement on what is currently a derelict site.”
The sheer volume of people wishing to express strong opinions about the application lead to a chaotic atmosphere at times and town councillors voted in favour of organising an urgent open meeting specifically to discuss the application.
Horwich Mayor Cllr Christine Root said: "I think it is vital that we urgently organise a separate open meeting to discuss this application and give everyone a chance to speak, because clearly a lot of people want to.
"I don't think we have had the answers that we want tonight."
Horwich Vision members agreed to come to the next meeting which provisionally will be held at the Horwich RMI club on March 13 at 6.30pm.
Plans have been formally submitted to Bolton Council by Horwich Vision to carry out the £260 million development on the 189-acre brownfield site, which, if approved, is expected to take up to 15 years to complete.
Developers believe the development could bring in an extra £19 million to the local economy each year, as well as creating 1,350 full-time jobs.
Consultation on the plans will last until the end of March. A date will then be arranged for a special meeting of Bolton Council’s Planning Committee, which has the final say on the plans.