Residents will be aware that the former Mondi Paper Mill Site at the end of Bridge Street, Ramsbottom, has stood empty since it closed in 2008.
Since partial demolition in 2013, concerns have regularly been raised by residents and businesses alike about it being a “blot on the landscape” right in the centre of Ramsbottom.
Former Councillors, Ian Bevan and Rob Hodkinson, had several meetings with the site owners and Bury Council over a number of years to get them to develop the land, but issues regarding safety of the site, and a reluctance from the Council to get involved in the site were preventing the owners from doing so.
The site owners had received a number of approaches from developers. The most controversial was from Netto Supermarkets (Sainsbury’s) for a food store on the site which was opposed by businesses, residents and Councillors’ at the time. The proposal was dropped after this campaign.
Discussions also took place for the site around the chimney to be turned into a much needed car park for the town. Again, there was reluctance from Bury Council to engage or compulsory purchase the site.
After extensive discussions, the site owners agreed that the most sensible option, and one which would gain our support, would be to pursue a proposal for mainly mixed residential housing (including retirement and low cost housing) with an area around the chimney and existing stone buildings earmarked for commercial use – craft workshops, units etc. Indeed, a number of local businesses looking for small sites have already expressed interest to us with potential for job creation on the site.
We understand that that local homebuilding firm, Eccleston Homes, has now secured an option to purchase the site for housing with plans to keep the chimney in place. Important infrastructure will be required for local roads etc.
As the site is still “employment land” in the Bury Unitary Development Plan, an alternative use might still need to be found for the area around the chimney. We would urge Bury Council to engage with them for a possible car park.
We have always promoted Ramsbottom to the site owners as a unique thriving town centre of small independent shops and have previously secured agreement from the site owners that any development should not undermine the hard fought success created by existing businesses.
We will keep you updated with developments but feel free to let us know your views on this issue.