RE: Master-planning for Cheadle Square

Judging from responses to the Civic Trust letter, of November 29, there are several points we must clarify.

Our proposals examined the question of commercial viability. We identified 36,500 square metres of development floor space, in and immediately adjacent to the Moor Lane site. Moreover, numerous studies have proved the economic benefits of green space.

The idea of urban green infrastructure goes far beyond "grass". It embraces green roofs, green walls, trees as well as landscaping to manage surface water.

Using vegetation integrated with innovative building design can yield low maintenance and low-energy solutions, providing ‘air-conditioning’ to improve urban air quality and even noise attenuation.

For the Moor Lane site, this could give a tranquil, quality amenity area for those living, working and passing through the spaces, in the heart of the town centre along with iconic vistas.

Green infrastructure is a key part of low-carbon 21st century design, which national planning guidance promotes, stating: "Local planning authorities should set out strategic policies to deliver: . . . climate change mitigation and adaptation, conservation and enhancement of the . . . historic environment, including landscape".

Our council stressing its ‘master-plan’ framework is still a “very early preliminary design’ simply echoes what it said in February, 2015.

The Civic Trust illustrated more extensive master-planning principles in 2016.

Let’s be clear. Any ‘master-plan’ must be just that: visionary around this core urban space, laying down the constraints for development. In the case of Cheadle Square, the remodelling of the square, street axes, public green space and scale of development plots all need to be well defined - before any outline planning.

Otherwise, given the current ambiguity and lack of design constraints, once the council starts to “work” with a developer their inevitable driver will be to maximize their pound per square metre profit.

That is a route to mediocre design. We need well-conceived not compromised development.

Bolton has a most crucial opportunity that could radically enhance its fortunes as well as the appearance of the town centre.

The Civic Trust has long been concerned, since it was formed in the 1960s, about Bolton’s economy and championing quality sympathetic modern development whilst enhancing existing high-grade assets.

If development across Moor Lane / Cheadle Square truly embodies informed 21st century design excellence, as we advocate, investment will surely follow.

Mark Head and Richard Shirres

Bolton & District Civic Trust