UP to 400 new homes are to be built on a huge industrial estate in Oldham after councillors approved ‘major’ plans which include the demolition of three 100-year-old mills.
Members of the borough’s planning committee gave the green light to outline proposals to demolish Shaw Distribution Centre and turn the site into a housing estate.
Once an economic powerhouse in the borough, its fortunes have declined dramatically.
The Very Group had been based in Shaw until earlier this year in one of the largest warehouses in the world, at its height employing 1,200 people.
The remaining business, Yodel, has also announced it will relocate its operations away from the distribution centre.
Councillors were told the company would have left the Linney Lane site by 2024.
Planning officer Graham Dickman said: “This is a pretty major application really.
“In terms of the township of Shaw it’s a very important development and will result in a considerable change to the existing townscape and have impact in relation to the economy in the area.”
He told the meeting that they had to weigh up the future use of the site against its employment status following the departure of Yodel.
Mr Dickman added: “Are we going to end up with a problem? Are we going to end up with a site that’s fallen into rack and ruin?”
The plans include the demolition of three mills on the site, Elm Mill, Lily No 1 Mill and Lily No 2 Mill that all date from the 19th century and early 20th century.
While none of the mills on the site are listed, they are of ‘local heritage importance’, Mr Dickman said.
However he told the meeting that the applicant had demonstrated it was not viable to retain any of the mills as part of the new residential estate.
The development will also include the de-culverting of the River Beal and surface water drainage infrastructure being put in place.
“The scheme itself will effectively involve the opening up of the river and creation of open areas around the site, so that’s other benefits as well,” Mr Dickman added.
There have been 16 letters of support and five letters of objections to the proposals.
Councillor Chris Gloster, speaking as ward member for Shaw said that ‘broadly’ the local councillors welcomed the development.
“It’s a good development of a brownfield site,” he added.
“However it is a major development, it is in the centre of Shaw and there’s obviously issues with the influx of up to 400 and anything between 800 to 1,600 new residents.
“The greatest concern for ward members and the community is the impact that these additional homes will have on the provision of health and education in the community which is as we know currently stretched.”
Chris Sinton, speaking on behalf of the applicant and owner of the site, Estuary Park Property Holdings Limited, said they anticipated that the development would come forward in ‘two distinct phases’, with work beginning on the northern portion ‘as soon as possible’, once a reserved matters application had been approved.
He added: “The site represents a prime opportunity to deliver a significant quantum of new homes on brownfield land, securing the benefits which go along with that.”
However he told councillors they had established that the retention of any of the mills on site would be ‘unviable’.
Councillors Peter Davis and Max Woodvine welcomed the development, which they hoped could lead to a reduction in the need to build on green belt land.
The plans were approved by members.