What used to be an underground reservoir is to be transformed into a luxury £2million home after a Bolton developer has submitted plans to the local council which have been classed as innovative.
The five bedroom house is the brainchild of Mr Anthony Whittle who owns Harwood Homes. The proposed home would be beneath a field at New Hay which is located off Bradshaw Road, in Harwood. Mr Whittle needs to get the backing of Bolton Council first but if successful the house would become the town’s first subterranean residence. The house has been called “Womble project”.
However Bolton Council rejected footballer Gary Neville’s proposed eco house which is located nearby ay Harry Fold Farm, which would also have been partially underground. Crucially though Mr Whittle’s plot is not on green belt land and does not include wind turbines like Mr Neville’s. It was these wind turbines which led to criticism of Gary Neville’s plans.
Mr Whittle is confident that his plans will be accepted by Bolton Council, he explained that Gary Neville’s plans were supported by coucil officers largely on the basis that the design was groundbreaking and was regarded as truly outstanding. He hopes that the same thoughts would apply to his proposal. The “Womble project” name is in reference to the Womble characters of the 1970’s who lived underground but more importantly were good to the environment.
The history behind New Hey began when Bolton Council acquired the site in the early 1960’s. In 1963 it was turned into an underground reservoir. It was designed to hold up to 12 million litres of water in case of any water shortage, the site therefore has very thick concrete walls. It was never used and United Utilities, which manages the North West of England’s water supply, sold the site to Harwood Homes for £21,000.
Mr Whittle describes the site as looking like an unused underground multi-storey car park. It is about 40 metres wide, 40 metres long and 5.4 metres high and he believes that the site has huge potential. He wants to build a five bedroom underground house but open up the land to the south so that there is lots of natural light. The house will have a courtyard, a swimming pool and quite possibly a panic room. Mr Whittle has been told that the house could reach in the region of £2million when on the open market. He also confirmed that he had contacted Channel 4’s Grand Designs show to film the project come to fruition. Importantly Mr Whittle believes that there will be little visible change to the land once the house is built. A local councillor said that the proposal sounded very interesting and was looking forward to viewing the site and plans in detail.
It seems that this may be the way forward for many eco homes which can be built into the land and therefore are not a blight on the landscape. Even though Gary Neville’s plans were dismissed it seems that councillors may be in favour of some designs as long as they are in keeping with the area.