Date published: 29 October 2011
The Turners site
Campaigners fighting for the future of the Turner Brothers Asbestos site in Spodden Valley believe they are one step closer to securing a safe future for the site.
They say Rochdale Council has indicated that a community solution for the site is now on the table, something the activists describe as a “landmark shift” following seven years of Council attempts to negotiate a housing solution for the site with developers - an approach that has comprehensively failed to demonstrate it would be safe to do so.
In August, the site owners MMC gave up their interest in the site. It is now up for sale but uncertainty remains regarding the site's commercial value and liabilities.
William Hobhouse, Chairman of the TBA Working Party, said: “When hundreds of people first got involved in the campaign for a safe solution at Turners, they were not to know that 7 years later almost no progress would have been made. There has been deadlock because of the strategic miscalculation of the Council ten years ago to think that doing a deal with a developer was the solution for this site.
“I am really pleased that Peter Rowlinson and his Council colleagues have recognised that we need to find a solution for the site by bringing on board the community and its great wealth of knowledge and expertise.
“For the first time on this issue, I am optimistic that we might finally be starting to find solutions to Rochdale’s asbestos legacy.”
Peter Rowlinson, Director of Planning and Regulation at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “We have always maintained a consistent approach to the site in saying that we are willing to work with anyone who can provide a solution, regardless of whether or not it involves housing.
“That remains the case and our door is always open to anyone who has a proposal they wish to discuss.”
Save Spodden Valley campaign co-ordinator Jason Addy, added: “Although since day one of our campaign we had cross-party support, it appeared in the early days we were hitting an official brick wall.
“However, through the years our concerns and facts about the TBA site and asbestos have been vindicated. We are now being listened to and this has improved since Peter Rowlinson has been in post.
“For a ‘community plan b’ to work requires the will and determination from the executive officers of Rochdale Council.
“We are not asking for any preferential treatment - just a level playing field so that local concerns and solutions can be heard.”
At last week’s meeting of full council, Councillor Martin Burke, said: “The Council has made it clear that the overriding priority for the former TBA site is to secure its safe remediation for the future.
“The method by which this is to be achieved is still to be determined and various options do exist.
“The Planning and Regulation Service meets regularly with local community stakeholders and has already offered support for any community based initiatives which could secure the aim of safe remediation. Undertakings have also been given that any proposals would require extensive community engagement whether derived from the private or community sectors.”