Neighbourhood forum set to produce first Rochdale neighbourhood plan

Date published: 21 June 2018

A local neighbourhood forum looks set to produce the first neighbourhood plan in Rochdale.

The Rooley Moor Neighbourhood Forum (RMNF) are working on a neighbourhood plan for the Rooley Moor Neighbourhood Area. Historic England are a consultee and supportive of the neighbourhood planning process to protect heritage assets such as Rooley Moor Road.

Neighbourhood plans provide the opportunity for local communities to play a greater role in determining the future of their area. A neighbourhood plan can outline policies on the development and allocate land for development within the designated neighbourhood area, and will propose the same or a higher level of growth as proposed in a local authority's Local Plan. It will also be used when assessing any planning application within the designated area. 

The Rooley Moor Neighbourhood Plan falls within the boundary of the Prickshaw and Broadley Fold conservation area and includes four buildings or structures listed in Grade II.

Last year, the forum devised a community questionnaire for residents to have their say about the future of Rooley Moor.

A spokesman for RMNF said: “The Shared Heritage grant awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has allowed us to research the areas heritage in more detail. We have built good relationships with other organisations and have discovered the place where MP John Bright gave his first speech on temperance and the location of a Wesleyan Sunday School that was visited by John Wesley.”

The neighbourhood forum has been working alongside Rochdale Council, Co-operative Heritage Trust, Rochdale Connections Trust, Mid Pennine Arts, Touchstones Museum [Link4Life], Healey Dell Heritage Centre, Cartwheel Arts, Ramblers, Norden & District Local History Society, Spotland and Norden Area Forums, to name but a few.

RMNF will also be collaborating with Rochdale Connections Trust and Co-operative Heritage Trust to explore a possible historic connection between some of the founding Pioneers and the Cotton Famine Road.

Rochdale Pioneer, John Scowcroft (1785 - 1870), would walk eight miles over Rooley Moor to preach in Ramsbottom during the time of the cotton famine. Presumably, Mr Scowcroft would have been aware of the extreme hardship endured by Rochdale cotton mill workers to support the abolition of slavery.

RCT has also been awarded an HLF grant and their project team is working to develop individual research and presentation skills by investigating the history of Rooley Moor.

The RMNF spokesman added: “It’s possible our respective HLF projects will show how the Pioneer Movement forged social change that was reflected in the attitudes and actions of Rochdale people during the American Civil War.”

He concluded: “I don’t think you can over emphasise the importance of neighbourhood forums and I don’t think any of the Trustees, officers and members ever envisaged the direction we would take as a result of neighbourhood planning.

“Only recently, there was a plan to tarmac over part of the Cotton Famine Road. This was brought about because councils, not just Rochdale, use consultants who may not have local knowledge. The relationship between a designated forum and the council is such that they talk to each other, work together and share plans.

“As a result, something as damaging as losing a significant heritage asset can be discussed and better solutions explored.”

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