Home is where the heartache is

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HOUSING development recommendations preserving the borough’s Green Belt land have been approved by Wigan Council, reporter James Illingworth looks at how the decision could affect our environment.

The Evening Post revealed last month that the controversial Core Strategy plans for extra homes will not include many of the areas under consideration, including Standish, Winstanley and Hawkley Hall.

Three sites in Lowton and Golborne will now be the location of the extra housing demanded by the government, after the recommendations were voted through at the latest meeting of the full council.

More than 700 people attended meetings across the borough, with 6,100 making written representations in a consultation period. The plans will now go to a public inquiry early next year.

Speaking at the meeting, leader of the council, Lord Peter Smith, said: “Our interpretation of the housing needs in the borough was different to the inspectors. We could have done nothing, not taken part in the consultation, and then the inspectors would have chosen the sites.

“There is no doubt we need more affordable housing in this borough, everyone agrees, but people say ‘just not in my back yard’.

“I think this is the best compromise that could have come out of the consultations.”

The plans did stir up some opposition though, especially from those councillors whose wards will include the development sites.

Conservative Coun James Grundy, of Lowton East, said: “It is ridiculous. The council set higher housing targets than the one set by the government.

“I’m disappointed with the report, the people of Lowton always thought it was a foregone conclusion.

“We will move heaven and earth to advise the inspector to reject the proposals.”

Coun George Fairhurst, whose Standish ward includes one of the sites given a reprieve, paid tribute to the residents who took an active part in the consultations.

He said: “I can understand the complaints from my colleagues, but Standish has had its fair share of rough deals in the past.

“But our meeting was one of the largest in the borough in terms of turnout, and our voice has been heard. Thank you to the people of Standish who came together on this issue.”