Victory in Rochdale!
After more than six years, local campaigners have won a major battle in the town of Rochdale. On January 13, 2011, Rochdale Borough Council rejected a planning application to build 600 homes on a 72 acre site in Spodden Valley. For over 100 years, the site had been occupied by Turner Brothers Asbestos, a major local employer and owner of the world's largest asbestos factory.1
The initial planning application submitted by MMC Estates did not, the Council found, provide enough detail about the way the council's conditions for the safe and timely development of the site would be met.2 The controversial £100 million scheme to develop the Rochdale site had shocked people in the surrounding area. Speaking on behalf of the campaigning group Save Spodden Valley, Jason Addy said:
The sound of those chainsaws destroying the woodland around Turners at dawn on that Saturday morning in May 2004 seemed to wake up the whole town. Too many had watched loved ones wither away from asbestos disease They knew the dangers, they knew that huge amounts of asbestos were dumped on this site.
From his comments, Council leader Colin Lambert seemed relieved at the outcome of the planning adjudication which: offers a new opportunity for us to move the site forward. I am pleased that we now have the ability to make a fresh start in securing the safe development of this site. Local campaigners hope that forward-thinking and innovation will result in the site becoming a local amenity resource:
Too many souls have been lost to asbestos disease as a result of past products and decisions made in the Spodden Valley [an area which] has paid a bitter price to society. Like its victims, it is time to let the Turners site rest in peace as a safe 'green lung' for future generations.
MMC Estates have indicated that they will submit a further application for a residential-led development solution for this site.3 Should they do so, Peter Rawlinson, Head of Planning at Rochdale Council, said they would have to provide full details of how this site could be reclaimed safely.
January 14, 2011
1 Press Release: Save Spodden Valley. January 13, 2011.
2 Council rejects plans for 600 homes on former Turner Brothers asbestos factory site. Manchester Evening News. January 13, 2011.
3 Rochdale Council blocks homes plans on asbestos site. BBC News. January 13, 2011.
See (on YouTube): BBC North West Report and Interview with Jason Addy.