Chocolate Festival organiser selected to fight election

Coun Rob Hodkinson with Gregg Fletcher

We can announce today that Councillor Robert Hodkinson has decided to retire from Bury Council at the local elections in May 2019 for family reasons.

Coun Hodkinson has served Ramsbottom since 2014 and has been a strong advocate for the town.

Coun Rob Hodkinson has given the following comment: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Councillor and it has been an honour to serve the residents of Ramsbottom. I have consistently asked questions about our town in the Council Chamber and helped fight to protect our green spaces and green belt.

I have been active within Ramsbottom Business Group, helping to organise events such as the Chocolate Festival and 1940s weekend and have helped hundreds of people with local casework – housing issues, planning, neighbour disputes, parking etc..”

As a result, at a meeting of the Bury Conservative Association, Ramsbottom businessman, Gregg Fletcher, has been unanimously chosen as the Conservative candidate for Ramsbottom Ward at the forthcoming local elections to be held in May 2019.

Gregg, who lives on Stanford Hall Crescent, on the Whittingham Drive estate in Ramsbottom, is a well-known resident of Ramsbottom, having established his business in the town many years ago.

Gregg was for many years Chairman of Ramsbottom Business Group and now devotes his spare time to organising the Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival, Farmers Markets and other events in the town.

Gregg is married to Terri, and has two daughters.

He gave the following comment: “I am delighted to have been selected by the Conservatives to stand in the elections next year for Ramsbottom. I have lived in the town for 18 years and have run a local business here during that whole time.

Rob Hodkinson will be a hard act to follow, but I know that I can be a strong voice for Ramsbottom. I have the commitment and energy needed to fight for the issues that matter to the residents of Ramsbottom.

I have always had a positive vision for Ramsbottom, Shuttleworth and Holcombe. Quite rightly, Ramsbottom has become one of the best places to live in the country and I am proud to have had a helping hand in my role as Chairman of Ramsbottom Business Group for many years, and lately as the organiser of the Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival, Farmers Markets and other events.

Towns always adapt to change and Ramsbottom has done better than most in attracting new investment into the town centre. It has built a solid reputation as a food destination of choice. This is down to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in our town, from residents, retailers and volunteers.

I am looking forward to the campaign. Residents I believe share my positive vision for our town. If elected, I will work hard with Councillor Ian Schofield to ensure Ramsbottom has a strong voice on Bury Council.”

Update on ‘Greater Manchester Spacial Framework’

Ramsbottom Conservatives campaigning to protect our Green Belt

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has been continuing work on a rewritten draft of Greater Manchester’s plan for Homes, Jobs and the Environment, ready for it to go out to public consultation.

This follows public outrage when areas of greenbelt across Greater Manchester were due to be stripped of their greenbelt status and allocated as building land.

Known as ‘The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework’ or “GMSF” for short, the aim of the plan is to ensure that enough land is secured in the right places across Greater Manchester, including here in Ramsbottom, to deliver the homes and jobs needed to create sustainable communities over the next 20 years.

Your local Conservative Councillors made representations on your behalf when the initial draft GMSF was published about protecting and strengthening our greenbelt and green spaces.

The rewritten version of the GMSF has now been published following a review of the representations made.  The document can be found here:

https://www.greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk/gmsf

An eight-week consultation period has now been triggered.

Across Greater Manchester, land is set aside to build 201,000 new homes including thousands of new homes and acres of business space created around the M60, M66 and M62 at Pilsworth, Simister and Bowlee.  Much of that would be on green belt land.  The proposed “Northern Gateway” is set to become the northern of Greater Manchester’s answer to Trafford Park.  There would be improvements to the motorways to take into account the additional traffic.

Here in Bury and Ramsbottom, the notable issues include:

  • Prioritising regeneration of brownfield land
  • A 12% reduction in Green Belt land identified for development
  • Plans for 100 homes in Holcombe Brook on the edge of Ramsbottom, as well as for 150 on the old Gin Hall site at Walmersley have now been dropped
  • Additional Green Belt land is to be created around Nuttall Park and at Church Fields off Nuttall Lane
  • Two new major housing sites in the north of Bury including 1,250 new homes in Walshaw (Tottington) and 3,500 at Elton Reservoir
  • The Northern Gateway site at Pilsworth for thousands of new homes and industrial units with potential new jobs
  • New roads, public transport, public spaces, schools and healthcare.

The new Green Belt land in Ramsbottom can be seen here:

additions to green belt in ramsbottom

The previous draft Greater Manchester Spatial Framework back in 2016 attracted 27,000 responses from across Greater Manchester. These were taken into account when the GMSF was rewritten.

Get involved – have your say

You will be able to take part in the online consultation – https://www.gmconsult.org/ – from 14 January 2019 .

The “Bury Folk Keep It Green” residents group have organised a public meeting on Wednesday 23 January 2019 at 7.30pm in the Elizabethan Suite of Bury Town Hall to discuss the loss of Greenbelt land in our Borough.

In addition, six drop-in sessions are being held for residents to view the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework plans and talk to Council officers about them.

They are as follows:

  • Wednesday 30 January – Elizabethan Suite, Bury (12-8pm)
  • Monday 4 February – Elton High School, Bury (4-8pm)
  • Wednesday 6 February – Longfield Centre, Prestwich (2-8pm)
  • Monday 11 February – Radcliffe Market Hall (2-8pm)
  • Tuesday 12 February – Castlebrook High School (4-8pm)
  • Wednesday 6 March – Elizabethan Suite (12-8pm)

If you have any queries or questions of your Councillors, please complete the contact form below:

New Long Stay Car Parking announced for Ramsbottom Town Centre

Ramsbottom’s Conservative Councillors, Rob Hodkinson and Ian Schofield have welcomed the announcement today by Bury Council of plans for a 200 space long stay car park next to Ramsbottom Leisure Centre and Swimming Pool.

Ramsbottom Councillors undertaking Parking Survey in 2016

Coun Hodkinson said “I am very pleased that Bury Council have finally agreed to our request for additional long term parking in Ramsbottom.

We have spent over three years lobbying senior officers and politicians at the Council, having meetings and drafting plans to use the spare land adjacent to the Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre.

In February 2016, we met with the then Chief Executive, Mike Owen, and formulated plans for a 200 space car park at Ramsbottom Leisure Centre and Pool.

Ramsbottom Long Stay Car Park

In January 2017, we announced the results of our surveys of local residents and businesses in the town undertaken during 2016 to see what they thought about the lack of parking in the centre of town.

Businesses and visitors alike had been complaining about the restricted number of parking spaces in the town and that it was forcing residents and visitors to seek alternative locations for shopping and leisure.

The survey that we undertook of local businesses (70% responded) in Ramsbottom town centre revealed that at least 280 employees required all-day car parking during the week. 190 required car parking at weekend. In addition, residents were parking in the town centre for free and getting the bus into Manchester or Bury.  Tourists had been parking up and leaving their cars in the town centre all day.  This has been forcing shoppers and many visitors out of the town centre. The lack of parking results in the lack of footfall in the town centre.

We continued to lobby the Council throughout 2017 and 2018.

Whilst we are delighted that the plans are now moving forward, It is obviously disappointing that it has taken three years for these plans to be approved by our Labour-run Council.  During that time, businesses have gone under due to the lack of parking, residents have suffered due to the lack of on-street residents parking and events such as the Chocolate Festival suffered due to parking problems.”

Coun Schofield added “The current retail offer of our town has been in decline as a result of the lack of suitable parking.  Visitors are simply put off by the lack of suitable places to park. Retailers and traders also complain of the lack of parking, and residents of town centre properties also find parking difficult and regularly request “residents only” parking.

We now need the Council to confirm the precise details of how this will work including provision of pedestrian access from the car park to the town centre, perhaps with a dedicated footpath alongside the East Lancashire Railway onto Bridge Street.

Ramsbottom town centre requires a comprehensive rethink of its parking provision – with perhaps short stay parking in the town centre, residents-only parking, and long stay parking at the Leisure Centre site.

We can assure residents that we will work closely with them, and the Council, to ensure that these plans benefit businesses, residents and visitors alike, securing the long term prosperity of our town.”

Update on plans for Hotel and Country Club off Ripon Hall Ave

The time for objections and comments regarding the planning application for a Hotel and Country Club on land at Ripon Hall Avenue, Ramsbottom, has now come to an end.

We are delighted that over 650 comments have been lodged and it appears that the planning application will be considered by Bury Council’s planning committee on 22 January 2019, unless it is rejected beforehand by planning officers.

The Greater Manchester Ecology Unit have now commented on the planning application.  Their comments are as follows:

“Thank you for consulting the GMEU.

Summary

The main body of the site consists of moderate to high value habitats and there will also be potential negative impacts on a grade A SBI, ancient woodland, wildlife corridor and River Valley as defined under the UDP.  Further information is required to demonstrate that these negative impacts can be mitigated or compensated for.  Other ecological issues include nesting birds, invasive species and mammals. 

Protected Species

There is no evidence of direct impacts on any protected species, though the site is potentially utilised as foraging habitat for bats and species such as badger, with sensitive lighting recommended if permission is granted.  I have no reason to doubt the findings of the report and agree that sensitive light should occur to prevent illumination of Broad Hey Wood.  I recommend a condition along the following lines is applied to any permission:

Prior to development a lighting design strategy shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the LPA.  The strategy shall: 
• show how and where street lighting will be installed  and through appropriate lighting contour plans  demonstrated clearly that any impacts on Broadhey Wood are negligible; • Specify frequency and duration of use. 
All external lighting shall be installed in accordance with agreed specifications and locations set out in the strategy. 

Proximity to Broad Hey Wood SBI

The development area appears to overlap with SBI, a grade A site and the proposed site layout includes no buffering along the eastern boundary and parts of the southern and western boundary.  Parts of Broad Hey Wood are ancient including the land immediately to the south and west.  I.e. of National Importance with a presumption against development that would impact on it.    The site is also designated as a wildlife corridor and as river valley, with the development lying completely within the latter.  The GMEU would object to any direct impact to the SBI or ancient woodland.   Whether this is occurring is currently difficult to determine.  I would request that the developer provide a site layout map that overlays the SBI, ancient woodland and wildlife corridor boundaries prior to determination. 

We are also object to the current proposed layout (dependent on the map requested above) as no buffer appears to be being provided for parts of the site.  Development is right up to the top of the slope to the south with car parking to the edge of the woodland in the east.  The Natural buffer noted on the proposed site layout is already part of the SBI.  Any buffering should be between the SBI and the development.   

Nesting Birds

If approved the development would result in the loss of significant areas of bird nesting habitat.  All British birds nests and eggs (with certain limited exceptions) are protected by Section 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, as amended. I would recommend a condition along the following lines be applied to any permission. 

No works to trees or shrubs shall occur between the 1st March and 31st August in any year unless a detailed bird nest survey by a suitably experienced ecologist has been carried out immediately prior to clearance and written confirmation provided that no active bird nests are present which has been agreed in writing by the LPA. 

Invasive Species

Two species listed under schedule 9 part 2 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) were recorded on the site.  Monbretia and Japanese knotweed.  It is an offence to introduce or cause to grow wild any plant listed under this schedule, if permission is granted, I would recommend a condition along the following lines is applied. 

Prior to any earthworks a method statement detailing eradication and/or control and/or avoidance measures for Japanese knotweed and monbretia should be supplied to and agreed in writing to the LPA.  The agreed method statement shall be adhered to and implemented in full unless otherwise agreed in writing by the LPA. 

Mammals and Amphibians

Whilst there is no indication that any protected species utilise the site, there is a risk of other priority species such as hedgehog and common toad being present.   The consultants recommend standard reasonable avoidance measures, which I support and could be conditioned if permission was granted. 

Contributing to and Enhancing the Natural Environment

Section 170 of the NPPF 2018 states that the planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment.  The proposed development will result in the loss of around 0.7ha of moderate to high value habitats including marshy grassland, scrub and semi-natural broadleaved woodland.   Limited mitigation is proposed in the form of a small area of unspecified tree planting.  No mitigation is proposed for loss of marshy grassland or bird nesting habitats.  As the marshy grassland and woodland would be regarded as high value habitats any mitigation would need to be of an equivalent value.   

The GMEU objects to the current proposal as there is no indication that adequate mitigation is or could be provided on site. 

We would expect a Landscape and Ecological Management plan to be produced that demonstrated no nett loss and a commitment to management of any mitigation for a 5-10 year period or a section 106 agreement to provide off-site compensation. 

D Dutton, Ecologist, GM Ecology Unit

(A copy can be found here … GMEU Comments Ripon Hall Ave )

Plans to ease traffic congestion on Ramsbottom Lane

Cllr Ian Schofield on Ramsbottom Lane

After consulting with Bury Highways department, Ramsbottom Councillors, Rob Hodkinson and Ian Schofield are pleased to confirm that a proposal to alleviate the traffic flow problems caused by vehicles parking along Ramsbottom Lane will soon be introduced.

Cllr Rob Hodkinson commented “We have received several complaints about the number of vehicles that are parking along both sides of Ramsbottom Lane in the town centre. Whilst there are no parking restrictions on either side ,the road narrows at one end and the road is not wide enough to allow free flowing two way traffic, particularly when large vehicles or buses are trying to get through.”

“I think that the problem has been exacerbated by the new development on Factory Street as it seems that construction workers are parking along Ramsbottom Lane. This development is unlikely to be completed until late summer 2019.”

“Ramsbottom Lane is also a popular place to park for commuters who use the X41 bus into Manchester.”

Councillor Ian Schofield added “We have also received several complaints from elderly and disabled residents who live in Ashton Lodge that the bus they travel on from Bury do not turn right at the top of Bridge Street due to the congestion caused by this level of parking on Ramsbottom Lane. These residents are having to walk the best part of a mile to Ashton Lodge.”

A proposal to alleviate the problem was put before Bury Council’s Traffic Management Unit and the introduction of parking restrictions was approved.

Head of Highway Engineering, David Giblin confirmed to us that “Officers will now seek to progress a scheme to introduce a no loading at any time restriction (double yellow lines with double tabs). This will also prevent blue badge holder from parking as it only takes one vehicle to cause issues when buses and HGVs need to pass. Given that a traffic regulation order is required as well as advertising, I expect that it will be around 6 months before the restrictions are put in place.”

If you do have any queries or comments, then please do let us know:

Consultation on ‘Bury Local Plan’

Autumn Intouch 8

Bury Council are currently in the process of preparing a new ‘Local Plan’ that will guide future development in the Borough, including here in Ramsbottom.

What is the Bury Local Plan?

The Bury Local Plan will be used as the basis for determining future planning applications for the next 20 years or so. It is one of the most important documents to be produced by the Council.

Bury’s Local Plan will contain a range of local planning policies and will identify local sites where development should be built as well as areas where development should be restricted or controlled.

It will also cover flooding issues, housing, Green Belt, employment and the town centre.

Details of the Bury Local Plan can be seen at: bury.gov.uk/localplan

Bury Council now want your views.  Emails with your comments should be sent to planning.policy@bury.gov.uk

Alternatively, responses can be returned by post to the following address:

Development Plans Unit, Strategic Planning and Economic Development, Department for Resources and Regulation, 3 Knowsley Place, Duke Street, Bury, BL9 0EJ.

Bury Council are seeking your views until Friday 30 November 2018.

Latest Autumn ‘In Touch’ Newsletter

No doubt you will have seen us out and about around Ramsbottom, Holcombe and Shuttleworth over the last week, delivering our latest Autumn In Touch newsletter, and speaking to as many residents as we could about issues here in our town and villages.

If you have not seen a copy, then here is a link to the latest edition: Ramsbottom Autumn Intouch 2018