Soccer Village could be demolished to make way for new housing estate

Date published: 02 July 2020

A five-a-side football complex could be demolished to make way for dozens of new homes.

Plans for a new housing estate at Milnrow's Soccer Village (formerly Birchinley Manor Equestrian Centre) have long been mooted, but Lancet Homes have now come forward with concrete proposals.

The scheme involves building 47 family homes at the 12-acre site off Wildhouse Lane, including a mix of houses with up to five bedrooms as well as some bungalows.

While within the green belt, the estate would largely be built on land already occupied by the football complex, although there is a ‘small parcel’ which is previously undeveloped.

The Soccer Village’s popularity is understood to have been in decline over recent years, despite its owners best attempts to promote the facilities.

The applicant claims the project would ‘unlock the full potential of the site, transforming it from a site which is underused and has a harmful visual impact on the surrounding area, to one which… has been designed to have a positive impact on the character of the site and surrounding area’.

Planning documents add that ‘the proposed development will create a healthy, inclusive and safe place for people to live’.


View of site entrance at proposed redevelopment of Milnrow Soccer Village, Wildhouse Lane, Rochdale - Buttress Architects Ltd for Lancet Homes Ltd
View of site entrance at proposed redevelopment of Milnrow Soccer Village, Wildhouse Lane, Rochdale - Buttress Architects Ltd for Lancet Homes Ltd


The scheme received a cautious welcome from Milnrow and Newhey ward councillor Andy Kelly.

“For the last four or five years in terms of housing framework I have campaigned for building and developing on brownfield sites and, whether we like it or not, it is a brownfield site, largely,” said Councillor Kelly.

“You can’t have your cake and eat it, if you say you are campaigning for brownfield sites to be developed and this is a brownfield site, then that’s a good thing."

However, his backing comes with the caveat of affordable housing being provided and the developer paying appropriate contributions towards local infrastructure and facilities. He would also like further clarity on the development's impact on the green belt.

The extra demand on school places and the impact on traffic - particularly the speed limit on Wildhouse Lane and the safety of its junction with Kiln Lane - is another concern for Councillor Kelly.

However, he says residents should bear in mind that the site’s previous use as an equestrian centre also saw an increase in traffic, with ‘literally every man and his horse’ visiting the area.

Councillor Kelly says that, while the soccer village is ‘not in the best of shapes’, the loss of a sporting facility remains a concern - albeit one that is symptomatic of a wider issue.

“It is a problem, but there’s a bigger question in that Link4Life - the borough’s sporting facilities provider - don’t provide any sporting facilities in Milnrow and Newhey, so everything goes to Littleborough. 

“It’s often been a bit of a bugbear with me, kids and adults aren’t going to walk over to what is essentially a school sports hall in Littleborough.”

A decision on the application will be made by Rochdale Council.

Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter

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