Housing and jobs bonanza for Wigan

A borough map with all sites within the scheme
A borough map with all sites within the scheme

An unprecedented house-building and business drive could be “massive” for Wigan borough’s economy, according to town hall bosses.

Combined authority leaders have drawn up plans for Greater Manchester which will see more than 200,000 new homes built by 2035.

The masterplan - which goes out to public consultation later this month - will see several plots of land earmarked for development across the borough, estimated to create thousands of new jobs.

Deputy council leader Coun David Molyneux said the Spatial Framework will allow the borough to take economic advantage of its “unique strategic position”.

It is also sure to prove controversial with several of the development sites set for green belt land.

Meanwhile, one site had previously been earmarked by the council under previous development schemes only to be rejected by government inspectors.

The framework will see 24,895 homes across the borough, 18,205 of which are already part of current housing plans such as the core strategy and allocation plan.

Meaning the new blueprint will outline 5,390 additional houses, with the development sites estimated to provide around 15,000 jobs.

For Wigan, the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework will suggest:

A site close to the M6 junction 26 at Orrell with 170 houses and employment land;

A site close to the M6 junction 25 at Bryn and Ashton (80 houses and employment land) plus the possibility of a second slip road to allow access to the M6 northbound;

An increase of greenbelt land around Standish to mitigate other losses;

A major housing development site north of New Springs that could provide 960 homes.

Coun Molyneux said: “It is crucial that local people engage with the consultation. This will be an important plan that will inform future planning decisions for the whole of GM, including this borough.

“Of course, if we are to seize these exciting opportunities there may be some difficult choices to be made about where new development will take place.

“There will be significant economic growth coming to GM in the coming decades and we need to make sure our residents are able to share in that growth and seize the many opportunities that will be created. As a key part of GM, Wigan borough must play a central role in the growth and development of the city region over the coming decades.

“It is crucial that with growth in housing and employment land Wigan borough has investment in its infrastructure and we will be working with our partners in GM to ensure that significant investment in our transport links is delivered.”

Combined authority leaders hope the framework will provide affordable homes for residents on average wages.

And council bosses have emphasised that not co-operating with regional colleagues would lead to crucial planning decisions being imposed without their input.

The proposals also come with promises that any new developments would be hand-in-hand with infrastructure improvements, including roads and public transport.

Coun Molyneux added: “I personally think we’re the best strategically placed authority within GM, as much as this plan brings forward a lot of GM aims, I think we’ve got to look at what (Wigan borough’s) geographical location means for the rest of the North West, not just GM.

“Our links, such as the West Coast mainline and proximity to the M6, means that we’re looked at on a national level for business and these plans will help us take advantage of that.

“We’re good at turning out good level students in Wigan, I’d like to think we can be able to create quality jobs for them and that’s why we’re looking at quality sites. I think this could be massive for Wigan.”

Residents can take part in the consultation via www.wigan.gov.uk/gmsf

Reaction to the GMSF will be featured in next week’s Observer