Heritage Landscape Plans put forward to Honour Horwich's Industrial Past

20 Oct 2021 02:28
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People in Bolton are being urged to share their views on heritage proposals that have been submitted to Bolton Council for the Heritage and Community Core at Rivington Chase as part of the next stage in the £262m redevelopment of the former Horwich Loco Works.

The design proposals complement the wider masterplan for the Community Core and open space which was put forward by architects Cass Associates in March 2021.

The three proposed landscaping elements include:

  1. pocket part adjacent to Rivington House roundabout and north-west of the Lane End development.
  2. memorial park adjacent to the spine road and the proposed Community Core.
  3. landscape buffer adjacent to the spine road, the proposed Community Core and the proposed Bellway Homes Phase 2 development.

The pocket and memorial parks have been designed to retain existing heritage features from the former Erecting Shop, with the latter forming a gateway to the future Community Core. Both parks include a hard-paved area that features seating and a heritage interpretation point, with the memorial park earmarked as a possible location to remember the former workforce of the Loco Works.

A key element of the designs is the retention and display of the original cast-iron columns from the Erecting Shop which will be restored to their former glory and displayed in situ throughout the pocket and memorial parks. The 6m high columns, which have been likened to Belfast's Samson & Goliath, will go on public display as a permanent reminder of Horwich's industrial past and contribution to the railway industry.

Other proposed measures to honour the heritage of the site range from: linear beds planted between existing columns from the Erecting Shop to mimic the railway lines that ran through it; blocks of wild ornamental grasses with timber edging and gravel to emphasise the site's post-industrial appearance; and where possible, the retention of key artefacts such as original structural elements, tipper wagons and remaining railway lines.

The landscape buffer is designed to as to form part of the approach to the future residential developments south-east on the site, including the reserved matters residential application submitted by Bellway Homes in June 2021.

The majority of the green areas will be amenity grass, with clover lawn potentially to be added to increase biodiversity.

Mark Caldwell, chief executive of Bluemantle, commented on the plans:

"We're really keen to hear views from the community on these plans which have been carefully designed to maximise the heritage and abundant open space at Rivington Chase such that everyone can enjoy it - both visually and practically.

"With support from local community groups, we're exploring options to incorporate relevant historical artefacts from the Loco Works within these public landscape areas.

"Belfast has Samson & Goliath as a nod to its shipbuilding past, and we wanted to create a permanent public display to showcase Horwich's strong rail heritage. I'm delighted we have managed to put forward designs that showcase these dramatic columns for generations to come.

"Those involved in the planning process have worked and are keen to continue working with the local community and heritage organisations to ensure that the history of the site is commemorated. We both urge and welcome views from these groups to ensure that neither the spirit nor the heritage of the original site is lost."

Richard Roberts, director of Cass Associates, added:

"This landscape design application represents a first phase of delivery in relation to the Community Core and an exciting, key step in keeping and developing the special history of the Loco Works.

"We've paid close attention to the design and layout of landscape elements within these plans, with the aim to both enhance the adjacent residential development and reference the character of the previous industrial structures. This ranges from the materials used and the incorporation of preserved artefacts into the landscaping to thoughtfulness about how the open space integrates with the surrounding environment.

"We really value the perspective of the broader community on these plans, as we recognise that Covid-19 has reaffirmed to many people the importance of outdoor, green space. I hope and believe that alongside honouring the site's heritage, these plans respond to this renewed appreciation sensitively by providing recreational opportunities that really benefit locals."

This latest reserved matters application has been put forward by Bluemantle for three pockets of landscaping and public realm situated adjacent to the spine road and the Land End residential development - both of which have been granted approval - the proposed Bellway Homes Phase 2 development and the future Community Core, which is focused around the potential redevelopment of the existing Millwrights and Pattern Makers Shops.

For this phase of development, Cass Associates is the masterplan architect, and Avison Young the planning advisor. The wider Rivington Chase development is being developed by landowners Bluemantle, Network Rail, Homes England HKR, and is overseen by Bolton Council.

The Rivington Chase regeneration scheme was granted outline permissions in 2015 for 1,700 homes and associated retail and leisure space on the former industrial site.

In 2019, planning permission was granted for a link road which will connect the site up to Middlebrook Retail Park, Horwich Parkway Railways Station and Junction 6 of the M61. In June 2021, Bellway Homes lodged plans with Bolton Council to build 207 family homes as part of the next phase of the Rivington Chase scheme.

Locals wanting to share their views can get in touch by visiting the Enquiries page of the Rivington Chase website: https://www.rivington-chase-horwich.co.uk/contact/.

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