Office plan at historic villa site

Brentwood, Wigan Lane
Brentwood, Wigan Lane

ONE of the biggest blots on Wigan’s landscape could be set for a new life as offices.

Brentwood - a large detached Victorian villa in Wigan Lane - has been allowed to become derelict despite being located in one of the town’s most prestigious locations.

The imposing building has been empty for approaching two decades after a highly controversial scheme to turn it into a mental health charity’s hostel collapsed following a protest campaign by residents.

Now Pemberton-based Cuerden Developments has lodged an application with Wigan Council to turn the property into offices with an adjoining four-storey extension. The application is likely to be considered in early spring.

Although part of a conservation area, Brentwood itself isn’t a listed building.

It is currently secured by metal grills to doors and windows but has suffered structural damage after drugs abusers and vandals gained entrance and set several fires.

Scrapmen have also ripped out copper fittings, boilers and slate roofing tiles.

Ward Coun George Davies is supporting the office scheme and believes neighbours will be relieved to see the building, which was constructed between 1890-92, restored to something of its former glory.

Coun Davies, who has raised the building’s future at meetings of the council’s Building Safer Communities committee. said: “Working at the infirmary I would drive past this building every day of my working life and I must say it was a heart-breaking sight.

“There have been cases of young children getting in to the gardens and to Brentwood itself and I have had to call the police because I was very very concerned that they would hurt themselves.

“I know that the fire brigade has spent a big number of hours on calls out to put out fires there so they will certainly welcome this application.

“So as well as hopefully removing an eyesore from one of the most important parts of Wigan, I am please to think that a potential danger to our young people is going to be removed.

“Something needs to be done and offices and the jobs it will bring would seem as good a future as anything.”

But one resident, who asked not to be named, is against the scheme because of the element of enlargement it incorporates.

And he is urging the community to oppose this scheme as well.

He said: “Some two or three years the local community was galvanised into objecting to a proposed development of this historical family home which would have been a disaster for the Wigan Lane Conservation Area.

“Unfortunately Wigan Council was found lacking in the consultation process and it was very much down to the reportage in the press that many people became aware of the proposal and objected and the application was eventually refused.

“New plans have now been submitted which propose a building even larger than the one refused and I believe totally in contradiction with the Councils own Unitary Development Plan in respect of conservation areas.

“This will again have a massive impact on this well-loved area.”