Jobs bonanza for Wigan

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HUNDREDS of Wigan jobs are coming after the green light was given to a massive road and restoration scheme.

A former coking works site sitting within a triangle of abandoned railway lines in Ince will be transformed into a new community complete with homes, an as-yet-unnamed high street giant’s superstore plus industrial park of business units.

The council project, passed by planning councillors this week, also includes another tranche of the Amberswood Link Road congestion-buster set to connect the east and west of the borough.

Wigan Council planning officer Richard Taylor told the unanimously-approving development committee: “This will be of major economic benefit to Wigan.”

The location, which has been derelict for more than a decade and is bordered currently by a flooded abandoned railway cutting, once provide the raw materials necessary for smelting at the giant Wigan Coal and Iron Works in Kirkless.

Planning committee members have now given full approval for a 400m south-easterly extension to the exisiting Phoenix Way in Lower Ince, to form another part of the Amberswood Link Road helping boost borough links between the M58 with the M61.

But outline consent has been granted at this stage for the 40 homes (a quarter ranked as affordable), a 2,000msq supermarket and 800msq of employment units, joining up with the former Gullicks site now redeveloped as Wigan Enterprise Park.

Although currently a council project, the housing, supermarket and industrial unit elements of the scheme will eventually be sold on to the private sector.

But the project will stir some controversy because it also, under the current footprint, extends “marginally” into Amberswood Common, which has special protection as a Government-approved Site of Biological Importance (SBI) including colonies of highly protected great crested newts.

Mr Taylor told the committee that while the extension to the road would inevitably affect the openness of the Green Belt, the effects could be successfully mitigated “to a large extent” through landscaping and be physically shrouded from view by the railway embankment close by.

He said: “The provision of this section of road is an important components of improving east-west connectivity across the borough, which will help to secure wider regeneration.

“Any potential harm, to the openness of the Green Belt arising from these proposals is far outweighed by the significant socio-economic benefits which will result.”

However, fuming objectors witness Janet McKeen, who has lived in Wilding Street for the past three decades, said that residents were concerned that when the scheme was completed, the current open view would be replaced by the uninspiring vista of industrial units.

She also voiced the community’s concerns about the loss of wildlife on the now naturally-regenerated former coke works site.

The committee agreed to a motion from Councillor Fred Walker to add extra conditions ensuring that as a “gateway” location, extra landscaping measures would be put in near her home.