HERITAGE experts are concerned that a section of an historic train yard could be set for demolition as developers plan a major housing estate.

Property firm Blue Mantle has submitted proposals which could spell the end for the Erecting Shop at Horwich Loco Works, one of the final remaining parts of the heritage site.

The plans label the historic building “no longer viable” and involve the construction of a key link road which would cut through the corner of the site. 

Stuart Whittle, chairman of Horwich Heritage, has questioned the plans. He pointed to the large area of unused land to the south-west of the site and suggested the road’s location could be varied so that it does not cut through the building.

“Since the application was submitted in April, we have been asking that all the options for the road and roundabout in the vicinity of the Erecting Shop be properly examined,” he said.

“This has not happened. All that we have is the developer’s word that it is not possible to vary the position of the roundabout because of the extra requirements of the new Greater Manchester cycleway directive.”

He added: “The arguments for not being able to adjust the position of the roundabout by just a metre or two are therefore in our opinion contrived. And this view is reinforced by the submission of a separate Conservation Report which states that the Erecting Shop is not ‘viable’ as a structure and should be demolished anyway.”

Mr Whittle went on to suggest that demolition on the site would be “short-term thinking” and that the building could be used for other purposes in future.

In response to the concerns, Mark Caldwell - chief executive of Bluemantle said the cost of making the Erecting Shop viable would be too high.

He said: “Over the last four years, careful consideration has been given to deciding the best route for the link road, which is expected to significantly improve the traffic flow in and around Horwich and reduce congestion on nearby roads and infrastructure. As part of this, a report was commissioned to consider the future of the Erecting & Repair shop, which concluded that the building is no longer viable and there is a deficit of £12m just to bring it up to a safe state that meets modern building standards.

“This, alongside considerable remediation, ecological and scientific concerns about the close proximity of the Red Moss site of scientific and biological importance, unfortunately require the building to be dismantled. We understand the significant heritage of the site and will continue to work with key stakeholders and the local community to ensure we commemorate this. A key element of the Rivington Chase development is the heritage core which will recognise and reflect the history of the site.

“Rivington Chase is transforming dilapidated brownfield land into 1,700 much needed homes for local people alongside retail, business, leisure and green spaces for the whole community to enjoy. The link road is a crucial part of this development, brownfield sites like Rivington Chase can help protect greenbelt land from over-development.”