Bolton Copper Works
Proposals for the development of the now largely defunct site continue to present problems with regard to its future use. The local topography creates a complex set of problems that need to be resolved before development is approved.
The fact that a railway, canal and the river are all squeezed into a narrow declination and all come to a ‘pinch point’ at the foot of the dangerously steep hill that is Whiston Bank on the A52 only adds to the problem. Any amelioration of these difficulties will be very restricted by the topography and historical position of existing structures. Even allowing for modern techniques of land reconfiguration the cost implications and the resultant traffic chaos that would result from any change of access would be very substantial.
In reality but for the historical accident of the copper site being developed at a time when its product was intended to be transported by canal and rail, not, as now, road, it is difficult to see how planning permission could safely be granted on this site. That may of course be a reason for changing its current use but any such use must be expected to meet the more exacting standard of modern road safety and environmental requirements.
SMDC have tended to treat the future of the Bolton Copperworks as a separate and somewhat self-contained planning problem and it is therefore felt that any detailed submissions about its future should be made in a separate document. Indeed the vast majority of the presentation at Ipstones village hall on 17th January 2012 focused upon the problem that is the Bolton Copperworks site.
At the time of writing this submission it has proved impossible to identify a single resident who would support any of the options put forward in the Masterplan Options Report. The pre-existing toxicity of the site has to be solved before any other plans are approved.
In its Masterplan Options Report and such supporting documentation as has been released to the public the authors of it commit themselves ‘to respect, enhance and protect the positive aspects of the Churnet Valley through ensuring that future development responds to the environmental, ecological and landscape limits….’ ‘By seeking the highest levels of environmental and sustainable technologies’…’through viable land management that
connects to habitats and creates a living landscape…’ by creat[ing] and promot[ing] further biodiversity…’.
Planners could make a good start towards achieving those aims and objectives by making it a first priority to insist upon the detoxification of the Bolton Copperworks site. The Site owners may need to be educated into being good custodians of the land. In the understandable pursuit of profit they are unlikely, especially after the event, to spend money cleaning up a site.
The time to test the will and commitment of a would be developer is to insist that they comply with pre-conditions [and in nearly every case put money up front to ensure that if they fail to meet their obligations the Planning Authority has the finances to make good on the developers failure]. Suffice it to say here that the Churnet Valley Master Plan cannot be successfully concluded without solving the problem of the Bolton Copperworks site.
A major failure of public accountability in developing the options that are put forward for this site, particularly because of the date of the Ipstones public consultation on 17th January 2012 [but which also applies with equal force to all other public consultations programmed,] was the introduction into the public domain a bare 24 hours before the meeting, of what is purported to be 800 pages of ‘evidence’ in support of the Options Report. When the writer asked SMDC representatives present at the Ipstones consultation where the evidence in support of the Option Report was he was told ‘it is too heavy to bring and would take a wheel barrow’. Timing of this type and the huge disregard it displays for the public it is employed to serve displays an arrogance of massive scale and should be condemned.