Heritage at the heart of Horwich Loco Works proposals

Some of the cast iron pillars retained on site

Bluemantle, the Wythenshawe-based property company, has  unveiled its heritage plans for Rivington Chase, the £262m redevelopment of the former Horwich Loco Works.

Following extensive consultation with the local community and key stakeholders, plans have been revealed for a heritage and community core in a detailed indicative Masterplan put forward by Liverpool-based architects, Cass Associates.

Sitting at the heart of the 1,700-home development, the heritage and community core aims to celebrate the history and heritage of the Loco Works and provide a destination for local people that combines community, educational, retail, leisure, health and wellbeing amenities.

As part of the proposed plans, two original Loco Works buildings will be restored to their former glory.

Indicative plans have been proposed to transform the former Millwrights shop into a mix of a heritage venue, community health and wellbeing centre, and a retail food and drink hall.

The former Pattern Makers building is set to be renovated into a 166-space multi-storey car park within the existing building structure and open at roof level.

Another key element will be the Rivington Chase heritage trail allowing the public to retrace the steps of the thousands of workers who passed through the site.

Residents and visitors to the site will be able to enjoy the vast amounts of open space across the 187-acre site, which have been designed to incorporate key elements and artefacts restored from the Loco Works’ original buildings including the former Erecting and Repair shed.

The heritage trail will begin at the existing war memorial and entrance to Rivington House and adjacent Stores Buildings – two of the original Loco Works buildings.

Some of the cast iron pillars preserved on site

Visitors will be able to sample the offerings from the community, leisure and retail space set to be housed under the existing arches of Rivington House.

Within the heritage and community core there will be a community plaza and landscaped memorial park, with conversations currently under way to relocate one of the remaining locomotives to the new plaza within the community core.

Other key aspects planned for the heritage trail include viewpoints overlooking the Red Moss, the wildlife haven which was confirmed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1995.

Careful consideration was taken during the dismantling of the Erecting and Repair sheds to preserve key artefacts, including the cast iron pillars once used in the building of locomotive engines, and these will now be incorporated into the proposed pocket, playground and memorial parks dotted around the site.

Rivington Chase benefits from abundant open space and the Open Space Illustrative proposals outlines how the open spaces could be maximised for use by the whole community.

Other indicative proposals include: a cycle hub and track formed in a natural setting, a local equipped area of play, a natural amphitheatre formed by following existing ground slopes, potential fishing use within the reservoir with jetty points, a forest school activity area, a neighbourhood equipped area of play and the opening of a watercourse from an existing culvert with an adjacent footpath.

Mark Caldwell, managing director of Bluemantle, said: “Throughout the development of Rivington Chase we have worked closely with the wider community to ensure Rivington Chase commemorates the heritage and special history of the Loco Works.

“I believe that these heritage and community core plans do just that and also provide a range of amenities and open spaces to be enjoyed by the whole community and for generations to come.”

A CGI of the proposals

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said: “It’s great to see the plans being put forward to keep and develop the heritage of the old Loco Works as part of the new development. This was always an important part of the plans when the council supported the site to deliver a brownfield site and attract developers.

“Horwich has a proud history as one of the major railway towns of the country and it’s important this heritage is celebrated.”

They added: “Open spaces, leisure and community services are also key to the whole development and we’re delighted that these plans highlight the area’s past history, and link it to the surrounding, natural environment by creating new public green spaces.”

Richard Roberts, director of Cass Associates, said: “The vision for the former Loco Works has, at its heart, the retention and repurposing of key heritage buildings and integrating these striking structures within public open space for the benefit of the community.”

The Rivington Chase regeneration scheme was granted outline permission in 2015 for 1,700 homes and associated retail and leisure space on the former industrial site. The wider Loco Works development is being developed by Bluemantle alongside Bolton Council, Homes England, HKR, and Network Rail.

In 2019, planning permission was granted for a £12m link road which will connect the site to Middlebrook Retail Park, Horwich Parkway Railway Station and junction six of the M61.

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