PLANS for almost 400 homes at the former Horwich Loco works site are to be decided on by councillors this week.

Morris Homes have brought forward the plans for the northern area of the Rivington Chase scheme, which has outline permission for up 1,700 homes, along with employment areas and open space.

The plans are part of a larger £262M development of the former locomotive works.

Approval has already been granted for a major road close to the development which will link Chorley New Road to Aspinall Way at the Middlebrook retail and business area.

It is hoped this will ease congestion in the town, particularly at the Beehive roundabout area.

The Morris application which will be put before the planning committee on Wednesday, November 25, is for 393 homes.

In the proposal Morris stated that they would not be able to provide the required 7.5 per cent affordable housing provision on site.

The planning papers state: “In line with the requirements of the outline approval, the applicant has submitted a viability appraisal for this development.

“This shows that the development would be not be viable if the required 7.5 per cent of affordable housing provision is provided on site, and is still not viable even without providing the secondary education and public transport contributions.

“This appraisal has been reviewed and agreed with the council’s external viability consultee.

“The applicant will, however, still be contributing towards primary education, off-site highways works, on-site green land, off-site ecology and health.”

Woodland will also be lost if the proposals are approved.

The report, states: “It has always been proposed that the self-seeded woodland that covers the majority of the site would be lost to accommodate the residential development.

“Some areas of existing woodland will be retained along the boundaries of the development and some within the proposed open spaces, but comprehensive tree planting is proposed in mitigation.”

Morris have proposed three ‘character areas’ for the style of the homes.

The ‘Edwardian’ area is proposed along the central tree-lined main road.

‘Country-style’ houses are proposed along the boundaries of the site and next to the proposed green spaces and the more central parts of the development are proposed as ‘classic’ style.

The houses proposed are to be a mix of detached, semi-detached and mews with six apartments.

The majority of homes are proposed at two storeys, but a number of two and a half and three storey properties are planned at focal points within the development.

The plans also revealed the intention for green space in the development.

The plans, state: “A green corridor is proposed centrally within the site, running north to south.

“As well as landscaped green space, this corridor is to accommodate a three metre wide shared pedestrian and cycleway and an equipped play area.

“A swathe of landscaped open space is proposed along the length of the southern periphery of the site.

“Further areas of green space with footpaths are proposed within the western portion of the site and along the northern boundary.

“A community orchard is also proposed within the area of open space to the south of Angelbank and three balancing ponds are proposed within the open green space to the south west.”

Last month, Horwich Heritage, who are an interested party in the development say they have finalised their objections to the revised plans.

Stuart Whittle, from Horwich Heritage said the plans as they stand fails to recognise the need for a ‘greenway’ to separate the Bellway and Morris Homes housing schemes.

He said: “This is a requirement of the Rivington Chase master plan and it is difficult to understand why this application does not conform to it.”

Mr Whittle added that his group had concerns about the ‘spine road’ running through the estate.

He said: “This latest application further demonstrates the problem of turning a major spine road serving the whole development, with fully segregated cycleways and footpaths, into an estate road with frontage access for some 50 houses and a fragmentation of the cycle and footways.”

The planning document states that ‘the road was always intended to be more residential in nature, with houses being served directly off it’.

Horwich and Blackrod First Independents leader, Cllr Marie Brady, intends to speak at the meeting on Wednesday.

She added: "We have seen a marked deviation from the masterplan approved in 2014 and there have been a lot more houses included than was envisaged."

Cllr Brady also has concerns over the impact that the masterplan will have on the natural landscape of the area, which people have been enjoying on walks during the pandemic.

Council officers have recommended the scheme for approval.