Masterplan in delay shock

Councillor Gareth Fairhurst speaks as members of the community in Standish attend the Save Standish anti-housing development public meeting, held at Unity Club, Standish
Councillor Gareth Fairhurst speaks as members of the community in Standish attend the Save Standish anti-housing development public meeting, held at Unity Club, Standish

WIGAN Council’s Core Strategy to determine the borough’s future housing needs is on hold after an opposition councillor called in the plans.

Standish independent councillor Gareth Fairhurst, an outspoken critic of the proposals which recommend building new homes in Standish, Lowton and Golborne, has asked for further scrutiny of the authority’s response to the plans.

The strategy is currently being examined by Government-appointed planning inspector Kevin Ward, and the council cabinet approved a motion to ask for the reasons behind the allocation of homes and clarify how many could be built in each location.

But Coun Fairhurst has now called in the decision, which means an extra meeting of the relevant scrutiny committee on June 26 to look at the decision in greater detail.

Coun Fairhurst said: “The response the council was going to put in is basically nonsensical, there are so many issues wrong with it. They should ask the questions first about the number of houses in these areas, get the answers and then draw up the technical wording. But the council seem to be accepting 1,000 houses in Standish and also asking questions about it. It’s also been left far too late to submit a reponse. We’ve all known what date we’re working too for months and the response should have been submitted to the inspector weeks ago.

“The whole Core Strategy in my opinion is a mess, and the crux of the matter is it’s challengeable in court. I’ve got the independent network of councillors on board and there’s cross-party opposition to this, because we’ve all got concerns. Some of their wards are not directly affected but they recognise the council going through the courts or judicial review is a waste of time if there’s a chance to fix it now.”

Steve Normington, director of economy and skills at Wigan Council, said: “The decision of Cabinet on June 6 has been called in by Coun Fairhurst for further scrutiny by the council’s Confident Places Scrutiny Committee. This will take place on June 26. The decision of Cabinet on the Core Strategy item cannot therefore be confirmed until June 26. The council has made a provisional response to the inspector as he had set a clear deadline of June 14 for representations. This provisional response is based upon the views expressed by Cabinet and by the Confident Places Scrutiny Committee. The inspector is aware that the matter has been called in for further scrutiny and is expecting the council to confirm its position after June 26.”