Housing Minister asks about Spodden Valley asbestos site
Date published: 12 March 2010
Campaigners Dave Phillips, Laurie Kazan Allen and Jason Addy have met with Housing and Regeneration Minister John Healey in Westminster.
The Housing & Regeneration minister was informed about recent Rochdale Online reports that current site owners MMC Estates have stated they do not have the funds to continue investigations into contamination.
As a result, Peter Rowlinson, Rochdale Council's Head of Planning and Regulation had written to the Homes and Communities Agency asking for government cash that could help with progressing MMC's planning application.
At the Westminster meeting the Minister was warned about the potential dangers of using public money to bail out private development companies on asbestos contaminated sites.
The foreseeable risks regarding health damage and legal liabilities were discussed about any plans to build family homes on former asbestos factory sites.
The TBA Spodden Valley site was described as “unique” in its production history, the corporate decisions once made there, and the legacy of industrial disease and contamination.
In response to information presented to Mr Healey, the Housing & Regeneration minister asked what alternative plans Rochdale Council had considered for what was once the world's largest asbestos textile factory.
Mr Healey asked for more information about the withdrawal of specific mention of the Spodden valley site from the Core Strategy of the Local Development Framework - as reported on the Rochdale Online:
The Minister was informed of a “Community Plan B” for the Turner's site: Healey Dell in the Spodden Valley is the gateway to Rochdale's “hidden gem” nature reserve. A “community Plan B” could create a “green lung” for Rochdale on and around the former Turner's site to make a permanent and safe amenity of memorial woodland and recreation land that would directly benefit tens of thousands of people.
Commenting on the meeting, SSV co-ordinator Jason Addy says: "The meeting with the Minister was an important step forward to provide permanent and safe “green” solutions to the deadly asbestos legacy of the Spodden Valley.
"SSV are a strictly non-party political campaign. We have welcomed the support received from all three parties in both Rochdale and Westminster. We respect the excellent work Paul Rowen MP has done to highlight the injustices caused by asbestos but we are concerned about his support expressed at a recent meeting to see houses built on the former TBA site. His phrase “never say never” to homes on the asbestos factory is a worry and appears to be a shift from his past firm stance on the issue.
"We welcome the national housing & regeneration minister's real interest in the important Spodden valley issues and his suggestion of an alternative 'community plan B'.”
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