A NEW housing development of up to 400 homes has the potential of a “massive benefit” for the borough, the incoming council leader has said as the local authority approves pre-development work at the former mill site.

A total of £120,000 has been released to cover pre-development costs for the major residential scheme at the former East Lancashire Paper Mill site.

Outline plans by Homes England for up to 400 homes at the unused site were approved in December 2018.

Cllr Eammon O’Brien, cabinet member for housing and finance, who is set to become the new council leader, said the local authority must “crack on” with work on the “important site” which is “key” to the redevelopment of Radcliffe.

He said: “It is quite a complex site. There were some decisions there about how we progress. We’re not quite at that stage yet. We need to do that important work.

“This is what this budget will allow for and that’s why it’s essential we crack on and do what is necessary and use this budget to do the work.

“It’s a potential of a massive benefit to Radcliffe and the borough. It’s essential.”

Bury Council owns part of the site but Homes England, which applied for outline planning consent for the development, owns the majority of the land.

Pre-development work identified in a report to cabinet includes technical studies, land maintenance and specialist planning, marketing and legal advice.

Theses costs, together with the cost of drawing up the masterplan and applying for planning permission, are estimated to be £120,000.

Cllr O’Brien added: “We wanted to continue progress as much as we can in these difficult times on such a site. To do so, we do need to approve the pre-development budget.

“This is part of a much wider budget that we’ve got in place to progress some of these strategic sites and our growth aspirations.

“This is all quite technical work, but essential for delivery and that’s what we need to start progressing as soon as possible.

“The report sets out an idea, some anticipated costs that will be drawn from the council’s capital programme and what it will hopefully lead to is a future report detailing clear decisions about how we take this forward, the next steps, so to speak, on the site.”

The allocation of £120,000 from the Place Shaping and Growth budget in the council’s capital programme was approved by cabinet on May 13.