Littleborough is a town with a plan

PUBLISHED: 10:16 03 June 2013 | UPDATED: 10:16 03 June 2013

Hollingworth Lake

Hollingworth Lake


The people of Littleborough are being urged to have their say on the future of the town, as Paul Mackenzie reports.

Photography by: John Cocks

Tucked among the south Pennine hills, parts of the compact town have changed little in the last 100 years. It has retained much of its charm and the Civic Trust want to keep it that way. They have begun the process of creating a Neighbourhood Plan which would give them a say over future developments in the town.

The plans were created by the Localism Act of 2011 which was intended to decentralise planning from Whitehall to communities.

In Littleborough, the forum would cover the same area as the old Urban District Council which held its last ever meeting in the early 1970s.

It was around that time that the Littleborough Civic Trust was formed and since then the group has recorded an impressive list of achievements. They succeeded in re-opening the Rochdale Canal through the town and were heavily involved in creating Hollingworth Lake country park and helping to launch the Coach House, an exhibition space, meeting place, café and tourist information office in the town centre.

The Civic Trust was also behind the Town Design Statement, published in 2005, and they are now hoping to build on that with the Neighbourhood Plan.

The Localism Act 2011 created a range of measures to provide more power to local communities but before the plan can come into effect a forum of at least 21 people from across the area must be created. That group can then agree on a Neighbourhood Plan which would need to be ratified by the local council, in this case Rochdale Council.

The Plan can guide the future development, regeneration and conservation of the area and it can contain proposals for improving the area or providing new facilities as well as dealing with issues such as housing, employment, heritage and transport.

Iain Gerrard, the Civic Trust secretary since 1999, said: ‘We hope it will bring more autonomy to the area.

‘I think there is a feeling that since we lost the Urban District Council Littleborough has become to all intents and purposes a part of Rochdale. There are considerable restrictions on what the plan will allow us to do but we hope it will give the people of Littleborough a little more say in what happens to the town in the future.

‘This freeing up of local people to do what they want to do with their town is heavily bound by European, national and regional strictures that are already in place. But we would hope that if the Neighbourhood Plan is established it would mean we would be able to have a say on proposed developments in Littleborough. It would be good if we were able to tidy up the street furniture around Littleborough too.’

And Iain, a retired architect, added: ‘The key thing is that this is not just the Civic Trust’s Neighbourhood Plan, this is for all the people of Littleborough and we want as many of them as possible to get involved.’

Lots to like at the lake

Littleborough is home to a pleasing selection of small independent shops and cafes but the town’s most popular attraction is a mile from the centre.

Hollingworth Lake was completed in 1800 and was created to supply water to the Rochdale Canal, once a vital link with the woollen mills of Yorkshire. Captain Matthew Webb, the first person to swim the English Channel unaided, trained each week in the lake and it continues to host water sports, though not many participants are covered in goose fat these days.

The lake is part of a country park and nature reserve which has been voted the North West’s favourite picnic spot and attracts crowds of people and all manner of wildlife. Walking the peaceful two and a half mile path around the lake on a quiet day it can be a surprise to look up and see the M62 thundering past across the Rakewood Viaduct.

Water sports equipment can be hired from the visitor centre (01706 373421).

Big fun in Littleborough

How to get there: Littleborough is a few minutes drive from Junction 21 of the M62 among the south Pennines, fives miles from Rochdale and 12 from Manchester.

Where to park: There are car parks and some limited free on-street parking in the town centre and pay and display car parks at Hollingworth Lake.

What to do: Walkers are spoiled for choice here, with the Pennine Way, the Rochdale Way and the Mary Townley Loop and Hollingworth Lake all nearby. Once you’re tired out, relax in the town centre shops, cafes and pubs.

For more information contact Rochdale Tourist Information Centre on 01706 864928.

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