Plans submitted for Little Lever affordable homes development

The proposed scheme
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Developer and contractor, Watson, has submitted a major planning application to deliver 274 new homes on two plots of land adjacent to Little Lever – 89% of which will be affordable homes.

Led by P4 Planning, the plans cover two sites, Creams Mill and Hall Lane, situated 1.4km apart and connected by the Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal, which has not been in use since it was breached above Prestolee Locks in 1936.

A significant part of the proposed development will see the repair of the 60m breach and the restoration of a 700m stretch of the canal to bring it back into water for the first time in nearly 85 years.

The proposals include the remediation and development at the former Creams Paper Mill site, which has been vacant since 2004 and is allocated for housing.

Previously approved plans were not deemed viable as the site requires a new access bridge to be built over the restored canal – a stipulation this proposal meets.

The regeneration scheme is a mixed-tenure development of 274 homes, comprising one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom houses and apartments, with spacious living areas, private gardens and designated parking areas for residents.

Watson is working with two housing association partners, Great Places Housing Group and Bolton at Home, to deliver the affordable housing across the scheme. Almost 90% of the development will be for affordable housing, with the remainder designated for outright sale.

Designed by TADW Architects, the homes will incorporate renewable energy technology, including air-source heat pumps, to lower the cost of hot water for residents and reduce the environment impact of the overall development.

The development will remove invasive species – such as Japanese Knotweed and Hogweed – and introduce new public walkways alongside the River Irwell, improving access for the local community to the adjacent Moses Gate Country Park.

Aerial view of the Creams Mill proposals

A planning application, which is supported by an Environmental Impact Assessment, was submitted to Bolton Council following extensive public and stakeholder consultation over a six month period, which has informed the final vision for the development.

The scheme is intended to meet the critical need for affordable homes in the Bolton area.

This, and the other benefits, comprise the “very special circumstances” that are required to justify the proposal, which is within designated Green Belt.

The original canal breach in 1936

Rob Watson, director at Watson, said: “Our ambitious vision for the regeneration of Creams Mill and Hall Lane has always put the people of Little Lever first. We aim to transform these two sites to create high-quality, truly affordable homes for life – a thriving canal-side community for everyone to enjoy.”

Gillian Worden, associate at P4 Planning, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with Watson Homes and the wider project team on this fascinating and challenging project to finally regenerate the former Creams Mill site which has been vacant since 2004.

“There is a pressing and critical need for more affordable homes, and, with new homes at Hall Lane, there is the double benefit of enabling extensive restoration works to the Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal.”

Creams Mill operated as a paper factory for more than 300 years. It was demolished in 2011 following its closure in 2004.