Following fears earlier this week over plans to build up to 145 allotments on recreational land on Hutchinson Road in Norden, I am delighted to report that my recommendation for approval to be stopped, pending public consultation, has been upheld by Rochdale Township.
The proposal, which had been drawn up and presented to the Rochdale Township Committee last night (Wednesday 14th March 2019) included this and four other sites across Rochdale Township, which had been included without public consultation or discussion with Ward Councillors.
Other sites, like Hutchinson Road, were identified as having good reasons why they may not be suitable sites to be included in the shortlist of proposed sites.
Residents were understandably angry at the plans and the lack of communication so, on their behalf, I recommended that the request for Councillors to approve the shortlist was premature and should be taken away until proper public consultation had taken place.
I remarked that there were remarkable likenesses to the way that this was being presented and the meeting, almost four years ago, where the same committee tried to decide the fate of land at Caldershaw Road and Cut Lane, without public consultation. That land became the subject of a three and a half year public battle after I called in the decision, ending in the successful registration of Heritage Green as a formal village green, but not before costing tens of thousands of pounds and much embarrassment to the council.
If Council Leaders and Officers learned anything from that experience it should have been the importance of involving local people, forums and Ward Councillors in the process, from the start.
The good news for residents around Hutchinson Road and the Harewood Estate, and all those who use the recreation space, is that the officer has agreed to remove the Hutchinson Road recreation site from the shortlist.
It was agreed that we would acknowledge Environmental Management’s intention to begin a consultation on the subject of allotments and that Ward Councillors across Rochdale Township will engage with their areas to help identify sites which may be more suitable.