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report the potential valuation of the whole site after restoration was put at £5m - £7.5m3

Imagine local peoples surprise to find, overnight, that this was no longer the plan when Bolton Council published their draft Local Development Framework, a plan for the future development of Bolton, which now earmarked 250 acres of the Cutacre site for employment development in August 2009. This would

“blow the concept of the substitution of the opencast mine by a pleasant country park to smithereens. The boundary of the proposed area of industrial units slices right through the planned Eccorsley Wood”, writes Mr Wood. 1

This Local Development Framework (LDF)was drawn up by consultants acting for Bolton Council so the process of how it reached its conclusion on Cutacre is not transparent. However, if normal planning practice had been followed, then UK Coal plc must have indicated to the consultants its willingness to seek a change in the designation of the land at Cutacre. The importance of this potential redevelopment of Cutacre to UK Coal plc is indicated in its 2008 Annual Report where the potential value of the 216 acre employment development site alone is put at £10 - £20m, two to three times the original valuation of the whole 900 acre site 4

Although UK Coal plc claimed that this was always envisaged

“as an industrial park with landscaping” 5

local people disagreed. Within a month of the LDF being published, 800 people had sign a petition objecting to the changes

“and on the night England booked their place in the World Cup finals (10/9/09) hundreds of people instead spent the evening lambasting the council about the Cutacre open cast mining site”.6

A revised plan was then proposed which cut the loss of green belt land by two thirds. This was presented to Bolton Council on December 9th 2009, when 400 protestors and the three local councillors, who spoke against the revised proposal in favour of the original size of the country park, saw the revised proposal for the creation of an industrial estate which would include 92 acres of green field land rather than the 240 acres that was proposed when the LDF was originally published accepted.

“After the meeting many campaigners expressed dismay that the vote appeared to have been pre-planned, as all 26 Labour and nine Liberals voted in favour of developing Cutacre, while all 20 Conservative councillors  voted against it “


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