SHOCK redevelopment plans could see the borough’s most controversial industrial estate flattened to make way for housing.
In a move that will surprise and delight in equal measure, the commercial landlords of the Kirkless Industrial Estate in New Springs confirmed to the Evening Post today that it is to apply for planning permission before the end of next month.
This house building will kick start regeneration in the area - it will do so much goodVince McCarthy
Owner Andrew Walker, of J and A Walker Kirkless Limited, is also staging a public consultation meeting at Rose Variety Club for residents on May 12.
House building experts estimate the 25 acre site could take up to 300 homes once work has taken place to remove industrial contamination.
Mr Walker intends to sell the site in its current state with, he hopes, planning permission attached. His company has owned the New Springs site since it was sold off by the Coal Board in the late 1980s.
But nearby residents have long complained about the environmental impact of the Cale Lane site and many will welcome the news of its potential demise.
New Springs ward councillor Chris Ready, who has long campaigned for a clean up, today predicted that residents would be “made up that the end of industrial estate
nightmare” is in sight.
But he pledged that the council would also now work hard to offer existing businesses alternative accommodation to protect jobs.
Coun Ready said: “As a councillor who had dealt with it for many years and heard about all the struggles they have gone through, I think the vast majority of residents will be very pleased with this news.
“We have also had the scandal of McCann’s Waste rubbish spilling over the wall from Kirkless Estate and ruining a beauty spot.
“Now, after 18 months or so house building, all this could be behind them.
“On the flip side is the fact that we have a responsibility to protect jobs and the people who are employed on there and we will do all we can to help them relocate to other industrial sites in Wigan. I have already started making inquiries with the council about how I can help.”
Units at the site include scrap car dealers and road aggregate processing companies.
Former tenant McCann Waste hit the headlines last year when its waste transfer station on the site was prosecuted for a pollution scare after rubbish poured over the retaining wall and onto the towpath of the adjoining Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
Mr Walker said: “It is correct that I am applying for planning permission for housing and then I will sell the site.
“I have not given the existing tenants notice. It will be up to the new owners then to decide what to do with it and whether they wish to act on a any planning permission we have secured.
“The truth of the matter is I am getting older, I want to retire and, not unreasonably, I want to get the maximum from the site.
“We bought the site from National Coal two or three years after the end of the miners’ strike and there is certainly some interesting history there in its past.
“The site was almost completely derelict when we bought it. Apart from a night watchman being on duty, it was completely empty and I would like to think that we have offered low rent industrial accommodation and helped to create jobs ever since.
“I would think that the existing tenants on the site won’t be too happy but the residents of Cale Lane and the surrounding area will be glad to see the back of the place.
His agent, Keith Molloy, who will present the consultation to residents next month, said: “We will establish what is in the ground as it has been in industrial use since the 1800s but we are not expecting any problems to be insurmountable.”
Residents Action Group spokesman Vince McCarthy said residents would be ecstatic about the announcement.
He added: “This house building will kick start regeneration in the area - it will do so much good.”