Committee’s shock opposition to plan

Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party, visits Haydock residents protesting on Liverpool Road, Haydock, about a planning application to build two large warehouses on the site of North Florida Farm, Haydock
Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party, visits Haydock residents protesting on Liverpool Road, Haydock, about a planning application to build two large warehouses on the site of North Florida Farm, Haydock

Councillors sensationally over-ruled officers and demanded the borough objects to a massive commercial development in a neighbouring town.

Wigan Council’s planning committee rejected the advice in a report on the possible impact of proposed housing at Florida Farm North in Haydock.

Officers had suggested the plans would have little impact on the borough but representatives told the chamber they feared traffic chaos spreading from Lowton and Golborne as far as Orrell.

The vote means Wigan Council now has to return to the drawing board to create an objection before a planning application goes before councillors in St Helens.

The dramatic development delighted Conservative representative for Lowton East ward Coun James Grundy, who spoke in opposition to the findings of the report.

He said: “I was very sceptical about this report which said there would be minimal impact. We know already that Lane Head is over capacity at the moment and a minor incident at another junction recently backed up traffic throughout the area.

“I was both delighted and surprised when the Labour councillors on the committee defied the report put forward by officers. There wasn’t a single voice speaking up for it.

“This development is massive and we think surrounding areas in Wigan borough, including Lowton and Golborne, Ashton and Bryn and Orrell will all be affected. There is clearly significant public concern about this. Around 1,700 letters of objection have been sent to St Helens Council and I suspect a fair few are from neighbouring communities.”

The £150m development, which is supposed to create up to 2,100 jobs, has proved massively controversial with huge protests from residents and Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas travelling to Haydock to join the chorus of condemnation.

Local elected representatives including Coun Yvonne Klieve in Golborne, Coun Bill Clarke in Ashton and leader of the opposition Coun Michael Winstanley for Orrell ward have all criticised the plans.

The application is for two large commercial buildings on the site on Slag Lane and a new access route to the East Lancs Road. The rejected report said Wigan Council’s traffic section and Highways England raised no objections to the proposal, which is less than 1km from the borough’s boundary at Golborne and a little further from junction 24 of the M6 at Ashton.

Mike Worden, Wigan Council’s assistant director for planning and transport, said: “When considering a report relating to the neighbouring consultation from St Helens Council about the planning application for employment development at Florida Farm, the planning committee expressed concern about the traffic impacts on the network in Wigan.

“In particular the members were concerned about the potential effects on roads and junctions in Ashton and along the East Lancs Road, as it was felt that the impacts had not been fully assessed in the consultant’s traffic assessment.

“It was agreed to submit a holding objection whilst clarification is sought about the impact of traffic on the highway network in Wigan borough.”