Anger and dismay at new homes over latest scheme given go-ahead

Anger has greeted the latest housing development approval
Anger has greeted the latest housing development approval

A community group has reacted with fury after plans for more than 100 homes were rubber-stamped, adding to hundreds of houses planned for greenfield land in one of the area’s most popular villages.

Standish Voice, which is currently working towards a Neighbourhood Plan for the village, has spoken out in outrage after learning that a hotly contested development has been approved on appeal for land off Rectory Lane.

The group has long spoken out against rapid development in the area, the latest of which will bring the total of houses planned on greenfield land up to 1,600.

A spokesperson for the group said: "Standish Voice is shocked and disgusted that yet another government planning inspector can disregard the grave concerns and fears about the ludicrous level of housebuilding in our village and has allowed another development.

"This planned development of 128 homes on Rectory Lane was objected to by Wigan Council and breaches its own Local Plan. HIMOR ignored this and the vast majority of Standish people who have said more than enough new housing has already been allowed.

"They took this to appeal and Wigan Council, Standish Voice, along with Standish councillors, made a robust and reasoned case against their plan.

"However, due to the government’s housing targets, this has been allowed to go ahead. Not only that, but full costs of the hearing have been awarded against the council, which means council tax payers paying for this inquiry.

"This just cannot be right when a democratically agreed Local Plan has been effectively ripped up by someone parachuted in from Whitehall. We fully agree with the strong words Wigan Council has expressed."

The latest news has rattled current Standish residents, who believe that the developers are targeting the area as it is considered a "desirable" area of Wigan. Mark Ashley said: "The nature of this village is being destroyed by this relentless tide of housebuilding applications. No doubt the promotional drivel put out by the company will be "come and live in the leafy village of Standish.".

"No mention of the fact that they are destroying the very land that makes the village leafy in the first place. No mention of the racket from the railway line right next door.

"No mention of the traffic chaos that will be a permanent feature of Rectory Lane. No mention of the lack of GP provisions, school places, adequate sewerage.

"Another plan that will mushroom; wait for the announcement in due course that 128 homes are no longer ‘commercially viable’ and the plan needs to be 180 houses."

Gillian Woodford suggested that incentives be given to developers by Wigan Council to focus on other parts of the borough, so that the distribution of new houses is fairer.

"If I’ve understood this correctly Standish is paying the price for other areas of the borough being less attractive to developers," she said. "If this is the case should we not be asking the council to offer incentives to developers to build in other areas of the borough? And given our schools are at capacity are we being allocated any additional funding to enable our schools/roads to cope."

A number of parents have also voiced fears over ever precious school places following the closure of Shevington Primary.

However, not everyone was as quick to voice their anger, with some backing the plans to build more homes.

Christopher Mercer, a father-of-one, said: "Is your house less than 30 years old? When your estate was built, people then were probably up in arms.

"The Government allowed people to buy their council houses without replacing them so there is a housing shortage, deal with it.

"Where your house stands there was probably a wood in the past. Use your vote, run for office, or yes move out, to Skelmersdale or Manchester. People need somewhere to live, nobody is coming from London to live in Standish.

"Should they all be able to prove their Standish ancestry before they can buy a house? Grab the opportunity, build a shop nearby, open a business. But people need somewhere to live."

The inspector also rejected concerns expressed by residents’ group Standish Voice over increased traffic in the area

Standish housing developments since 2012 include:

l 148 dwellings on Bradley lane. Approved with conditions in November 2014;

l 1.5 hectares for 37 houses on land off Old Pepper Lane- Approved with conditions in February 2014;

l 300 homes on agricultural land west of Cat I’ The’ Window Farm on Almond Brook Road- Approved with conditions in October 2014;

l 300 homes on land to the South of Old Pepper Lane - Approved with conditions in February 2015;

l 250 dwellings on land to the north and south of Rectory Lane in January 2014;

l 128 dwellings on land east of Rectory Lane- Approved on appeal in July 2017.

Council leaders reacted with equal dismay to the planning inspector’s ruling.

The council did not determine the application within the recommended timeframe due to the release of revised household projections by the Government but was set to recommend that the application should be refused.

The inspector concluded that the council does not have a five-year supply of homes across the borough and therefore the development at Rectory Lane is needed in order to match demand for new homes. The council did not dispute the lack of a five-year supply but argued that Standish had more than fulfilled its fair share of new homes and therefore the appeal should be dismissed.

Coun David Molyneux, deputy leader, said: "This is an extremely disappointing decision which overrules the council’s intention to reject this application for more houses in Standish. We feel that Standish has provided its fair share of housing in recent years far above what was allocated in our core strategy plan.

"We stood up for the people of Standish but this judgment rides roughshod over local concerns and our planning strategy for the borough.

"As well as being an utter disappointment it also indicates the importance of being part of a robust Greater Manchester plan which is resilient when it comes under challenge from developers."