· The SRA has now had time to review Peel’s consultation document delivered to homes in the area. We have the following observations about their plans and what those plans might tell us about their long-term intentions. While the SRA will be making a response, residents can also respond, and we strongly urge them to do so although we realize in this timescale, it is not really feasible, unfortunately. The SRA response is below.
The SRA Response
· Peel / Northstone have said in their consultation that ‘All feedback received will be logged and reviewed to help shape the final plans before an application is submitted to Bolton Council in the coming months’ and we genuinely hope that our comments will be noted and might make a difference.
· While the plan indicates that Peel might build 208 houses at the moment, Peel is saying that in time they will come up the fields and build their Phase 3 development plan. They have permission to do this, but you will recall that this was something we hoped would not happen as it would impact significantly in a number of ways at the top of the field. Just how many houses might they build at the top? Just another 20 as they say? We really are concerned that they will build many more houses at the top, far more than 20. They could go for 68, their full allowance under law. This would fail to preserve the amenity value of the area, which, as Horwich becomes ever more populated, is a hugely valuable asset we would like to see protected.
· BUT THAT’S NOT THE END OF THE STORY. Peel have registered an interest through a legal device called a Caution in all the land at the top of the fields as far as Fleet Street. We believe that this instrument, which can be seen at the Land Registry, supports the view that they wish to develop all the land in the field eventually. Peel’s submission to Places for Everyone indicates to us that Peel do not want the top of the fields to be green belt, are likely to do everything they can to stop it, and if the area remains as so-called Other Protected Open Land, we know that, without a Neighbourhood Plan, or Places for Everyone, it’s as good as covered in houses.
· IF YOU REALLY WANT TO STOP TO PEEL BUILDING ALL OVER THE FIELD, YOU INDIVIDUALLY NEED TO PUT YOUR POINT FORWARD TO THE LOCAL MP, TO THE PLACES FOR EVERYONE SCHEME and to PEEL as well. THE SRA HAS ALREADY DONE THIS AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO THIS. You can also have your say in the Horwich Neighbourhood Plan.
· In two or three years’ time, the decision of the first inspector will carry less weight. At that point, sometime in 2024, we think Peel will come forward with plans to build on all the fields. You have been warned.
· We think there is an error in their consultation document. In their communication they refer to a permission for 278 homes, but if you refer back to the actual permission they have, it is for 276 homes.
· The ‘construction of a green corridor’ is all very well, but remember, there’s a marvellous green corridor there already and as they are going to build their larger scheme and not their smaller scheme, so they are going, in our view, to really impact on the landscape and let’s be clear, when Phase 3 is built, the green corridor significantly narrows.
· Looking at the map in their consultation, it’s very small and hard to see exactly the detail. But compared with plans submitted before, there seem to be fewer trees. A vegetation barrier that was to be there for the Phase 3 homes has disappeared on the sketch. This worries us and we are asking for that to be made clear and written in clearly and committed to.
· The quantity of affordable homes is undeniably a good thing. But let’s hope that this commitment stays in. With construction price inflation at record levels, and likely to go higher, we think that this commitment needs strengthening as it could be lost.
· Energy efficient homes – the Government scheme ‘Zero-Carbon Homes’ disappeared some years ago and now we have ‘Zero Carbon Ready’. Our advice to the housebuilders is that if energy prices are going up and staying up, don’t wait for the Government: ‘Ready’ is not good enough, ‘Now’ is the time.
Please make your voice heard, whatever you have to say. Thank you.
And please get in touch with us if you wish to share your views with us.
Chair – The SRA