Council expresses disappointment at Standish housing inquiry decision

Councillor David Molyneux deputy leader
Councillor David Molyneux deputy leader
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A SENIOR councillor has expressed disappointment after a planning inspector ruled major housing developments in Standish - which Wigan Council previously refused – should now go ahead.

Wigan Council’s planning committee turned down the applications for almost 400 homes on two sites in Standish last year.

We are extremely disappointed for the residents of Standish that our decision has been overturned by the planning inspector. We believe that there is already enough new housing planned for Standish. The government inspector previously wanted 1,000 homes in Standish and we’ve granted permission for that

Coun David Molyneux

But planning inspector David Prentis today (Wednesday) overruled the council’s original decisions to refuse the developments and has now granted outline planning permission for both developments.

The council had turned down Persimmon and Morris Homes plans to build a further 250 houses next to the 250 they already have permission for on the former golf course site, and also refused Jones Homes plans to build 110 homes on land adjacent to Lurdin Lane and west of Chorley Road.

This decision was appealed by the developers which resulted in a planning inquiry overseen by Mr Prentis.

The inquiry ran over six days in July with Wigan Council instructing a top barrister who is a specialist in planning matters to defend its position. However, the decision to allow the developments to go ahead was received today.

Councillor David Molyneux, Wigan Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We are extremely disappointed for the residents of Standish that our decision has been overturned by the planning inspector.

“We believe that there is already enough new housing planned for Standish. The government inspector previously wanted 1,000 homes in Standish and we’ve granted permission for that.

“That is why we steadfastly refused to allow any more. We are not against housing developments, far from it, but they have to be in the right areas.

“Residents shouldn’t have to tolerate the overdevelopment of specific areas of the borough.

“Unfortunately the inspector has stuck rigidly to national planning policy when it comes to granting permission for new homes and there is very little the council can do about it.

“By going through this lengthy process and rigorously defending our previous decision Wigan Council has stood up for the people of Standish.

“Unfortunately this decision is not in our favour but we will not stop working to balance the desire for development and economic growth with the needs of our residents and communities.”

He added: “A key factor influencing the inspector’s decision was the ability of the sites to contribute towards identified housing needs in the next five years.

“With the granting of these two schemes, the developers are claiming that up to 284 homes per year could be delivered in Standish which would make a significant contribution to meeting these needs.

“The council is not convinced by this claim and will be closely monitoring the performance of the developers to see if they deliver.”

A spokesman for Standish Voice, a neighbourhood forum set up by local people in Standish, said: “We are hugely disappointed that the planning inspector has chosen to blatantly disregard both Wigan’s Core Strategy and the strong feelings of the people of Standish against more housing development in the village.

“This unbelievable decision takes the number of homes allowed to be built in Standish to 1,600 - almost half again as what another planning inspector suggested was a sensible amount to be built in our community.

“We hope this lack of respect for agreed planning policies will not open the door to more and more housing schemes for Standish as our infrastructure just will not be able to cope.

“It is more vital than ever that Standish secures the funding needed to improve transport, leisure facilities, schools, healthcare and parking so that our village can deal with the huge increase in population that these new homes will bring.”

Standish Voice is preparing a Neighbourhood Plan to lay down a blueprint for development in the village over the next 15 years.