Residents of Horwich joined local councillors on Saturday to hear about the latest Rivington Chase development plans, including the Heritage Core, which will reflect the history of the local area.
It was also a chance to bid farewell to the Erecting and Repair Shop, which will make way for the link road to service the planned 1700 homes, retail, leisure and business facilities on the former Horwich Loco Works.
Planning permission for the link road was granted in August 2019, and will link Rivington Chase to existing infrastructure, providing easy access to Middlebrook Retail Park, Horwich railway station, and the M61.
The road will significantly reduce traffic and congestion in and around Horwich, particularly on Chorley New Road, and will be delivered by the Council. Work is planned to start in the first half of 2020.
Over 100 residents took the opportunity to view the Erecting and Repair Shop on the site of the former Horwich Loco Works, and view an exhibition display from local employers Fluent Money and Bellway Homes – the latter of which has 112 planned houses on site - and a heritage display from Horwich Heritage.
The event was organised by developers Bluemantle, in conjunction with Horwich Heritage and Bolton Council. The Council is overseeing the whole Rivington Chase scheme, ensuring that each development adheres to the masterplan and is delivered.
The Leader of Bolton Council, Councillor David Greenhalgh, spoke at the event about the exciting plans for the development. Cllr Greenhalgh said: “This site will deliver 1,700 new homes for the future, helping meet demand as more people realise that our area is a wonderful place to live and work.
"Not only will this revitalise a brownfield site, but it will improve the local highways and sustainable transport infrastructure.
“I am also delighted that Rivington Chase will rightfully pay homage to the Loco Works and the proud industrial heritage of Horwich.”
Mark Caldwell, Chief Executive of Bluemantle, spoke about how the history of the Loco Works will be honoured in the development. He said “We have worked closely with Horwich Heritage, Historic England, and the community during the planning process to ensure the area’s history is preserved.
"We want to hear from the local community about the ways in which the history of the Loco Works can be honoured in the development. Suggestions can be submitted through the Rivington Chase website.
“As part of the masterplan we will have the Heritage Core - the design of which will also reflect the history of the local area.
“We have been very careful to preserve the artefacts on site; a heritage architect from Cass Associates has been appointed, tasked with documenting every element and detail of the building to ensure the key elements are salvaged.”
Attendees at the event also heard from Tim Wheeldon, Chief Operating Officer of Fluent Money, who announced expansion plans to take over as the sole tenants of Rivington House. Now home to Fluent Money, Rivington House was the first of the workshops built on the Loco Works and was first opened in February 1887.
Fluent Money first took up tenancy of Rivington House in 2008, occupying 2000 square feet. At the end of this month, it will occupy all 26,000 square feet of Rivington House. The Horwich business has grown to become the UK’s largest secured loan broker and employs over 330 people on site.
Tim Wheeldon, Chief Operating Officer at Fluent, added: “We are extremely proud to be in a position where Fluent is able to take over the whole of the Rivington House building, given the success of the core secured loans business, and the further expansion of our operations with the addition of Fluent Mortgages in 2017.
“Fluent is a key employer in the Horwich locality, providing jobs for over 330 staff on site, and we are keen to respect the natural heritage and ethos of the whole building in our expansion and within the new interior design plans.
“The conceptual designs have been developed to reflect the local railway and steam locomotive heritage, to recapture décor from the Victorian times to modern day times, in line with the evolution of the railway industry.
"We will also be naming our meeting rooms and communal areas within the building to remember some of the names from days gone by such as: The Engine Shed, The Paint Shop, The Smithy and The Forge to name but a few.
"Needless to say, we are very excited about the future and the business’ commitment to a longer-term tenancy arrangement in Horwich.”
The first residential phase of the Rivington Chase Development, Barton Quarter, consists of 112 homes and is under construction. A planning application for the next phase of residential development by Morris Homes is currently with Bolton Council for determination.
Works on the dismantling of the Erecting and Repair Shop have begun and the Rivington Chase link road is expected to be fully operational by 2021.