Council u-turn on asbestos site
Date published: 29 January 2010
The Council has decided to delete reference to the Turner Brothers Asbestos (TBA) site in its Core Strategy. The government’s Planning Inspectorate has told the Council that the Core Strategy should not include site allocations unless the site is strategic and critical to the delivery of the Core Strategy overall.
Paul Simpson, the Council's Strategic Planning Manager wrote: "The TBA site is not strategic and therefore we cannot identify a boundary, capacity, uses, and development principles. We may need to acknowledge in the Core Strategy ‘Background Paper’ that the site exists and may have potential for housing but we will state that there is insufficient information as yet to confirm what area might be available for development, when it might be available, and what the housing capacity might be."
This Council statement comes after a letter written by Councillor William Hobhouse, Chairman of the TBA Working Party, who expressed concerns that the Council was making future development assumptions for the site without the asbestos testing data to back them up. He wrote: "I note that the Council is wishing to make changes to the planning policy for the TBA site.
"I see no scientific evidence to support the Council's case for change. Despite many hopes, a site testing programme to establish levels of asbestos has not taken place.
"The Council cannot, I submit, make any new assumptions about housing levels or the suitability of some parts of the site for housing, without the evidence of asbestos contamination to support those assumptions. This evidence does not exist.
"I feel that residents can be legitimately concerned that their future health is not being safeguarded within the Council's new planning document for the TBA site."
On receiving the reply from the Council, Councillor William Hobhouse said: "This is good news for Rochdale residents. Asbestos is a terrible killer, and the only safeguard for the town is that we make site decisions based on the best available scientific evidence."
Jason Addy, spoeksman for the Save Spodden Valley Camapign said: "It isn't easy for Rochdalians to make a real difference to the 'Core Strategy' documents as there appears to be so much jargon and administrative hurdles to jump but this is a minor victory for common sense.
"Over 5 years ago the old 'Unitary Development Plan' suggested the site could be an 'Urban Village'. For years we have asked who in the Council made this decision and on what scientific grounds. We have never had a straight answer about this.
"All we have ever asked for are all the facts about asbestos and the site so that safe, accountable decisions can be made. Is that too much to ask?"
Have Your Say