M6 group prepares to battle at public inquiry

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PROTESTORS say they will fight on in a battle to protect green belt land from a massive industrial development.

Wigan Council’s Cabinet has approved a new plan for the borough which includes revised plans for a business park adjoining Bryn/Winstanley’s M6 Junction 25.

Councillors say that the project will give the town a massive boost in attracting blue chip companies and allow them to compete with rival authorities.

But the M6 South of Wigan Action Group, set up to oppose the scheme on traffic and health grounds, say they will now prepare a strong case to defeat the scheme when it comes before a public inquiry this autumn.

More than 2,500 people have lodged objections against the 30-acre scheme, which has been reduced by a quarter and partially relocated to the west side of the motorway junction because of the furore since the scheme was announced in the New Year.

Cabinet member for regeneration and council deputy leader David Molyneux said: ”This is a quality site and the very last thing I want to see or give any support to is to see it sacrificed to another grey shed distribution centre.

“We have got to make sure that the young people of this borough don’t have to travel to access high quality jobs and in my view this is the place that will probably deliver it.”

He said that the council had listened to residents’ concerns and modified the scheme accordingly but had still retained a high quality proposal that would put the borough on a level playing field with rival local authority schemes such as Warrington Borough’s Genesis development at Burtonwood.

Council service director for development Steve Normington described the approval as the “first stage in a long journey.”

But Action Group official Paul O’Leary said the group’s objective was for the proposals to be quashed and the land removed from the Core Strategy to protect the green belt.

He said: “While Wigan Council say that the local community had been listened to, changes made and we have won the battle, the war itself has still yet to be won.”

Mr O’Leary said a £20,000 report completed by consultants GVA Grimley contracted by the council had identified a preferred development site at The Bell between Kitt Green and in Orrell.

Following opposition from residents, the location was changed to junction 25 M6 South.

Residents who support the campaign are urged to read details at www.m6southofwiganactiongroup.co.uk/home