A WIGAN Council chief has launched a robust defence of ambitious housing plans for Standish, saying they will fund millions of pounds of improvements.
Head of planning and transport Mike Worden spoke out as Bloor Homes and Wainhomes submitted outline applications for 600 homes at Almond Brook.
The council has already granted outline permission for around 250 new houses on the site of Standish golf course and two other smaller developments, meaning the location of the majority of the homes required by the government-enforced long-term planning blueprints called the Core Strategy will be known if Almond Brook is approved.
The two developments of around 300 homes each would be linked by a new estate road running from Pepper Lane to Almond Brook Road.
Mr Worden said: “It’s only an outline for building houses on that land, so all details will be subject to exactly the same planning process at a later stage. There is particular interest in Standish from housebuilders because they know it’s a good market area where they can build and sell houses, and people want to live there.”
If the outline plans are accepted, Bloor Homes and Wainhomes will have to produce detailed proposals within three years or permission will lapse.
A quarter of the homes will also have to be affordable, with possibilities for residents to rent or enter into shared equity schemes to help them get on the housing ladder.
The council says the work will give Standish a £5m boost, with developers paying for new traffic junctions, moves to encourage walking and cycling and creating more school places. Housebuilders are expected to pay a further £6.5m to offset new homes in Lowton and Golborne.
But the Standish link road is not included in the £5m figure and would be paid for by the developers.
The plans will now go out to public consultation and Mr Worden says the town hall is keen to hear the views of as many people as possible.
But he hit back at claims made by residents’ groups including Stop Almond Brook Link Road that the link road would be a health hazard to Standish High pupils and create a congested rat run.
He said: “It is not a Standish bypass, it will just enable people to drive both ways out of the development and help with the dispersal of traffic. If the housebuilders had worked in isolation they might have ended up with two cul-de-sacs serving the estates, and that would create queues at both exits. Also, bus companies will not run services up cul-de-sacs.
“People also assume it runs right up against the fence of Standish High School, and quite rightly were concerned about that, but it isn’t. It is also untrue that the link road will prevent pupils walking to school, as there will still be a popular footpath which is well known in Standish and called The Line.”