MP blasts plan for green belt

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AN MP has blasted a controversial planning review which it is claimed could destroy Wigan green belt land.

Yvonne Fovargue spoke out at the first day of a public inquiry into Wigan’s proposed new Core Strategy which is continuing all week at the Investment Centre.

She was backed by a series of protesters who fear that the proposed up to 40 hectares of industrial space and offices north of M6 Junction 25 will change the identity of Winstanley.

But Richard Laming, of planning consultants GDA Grimley which is presenting the council’s case, said that the project would boost employment by creating a site of exceptional quality that wouldn’t hit regeneration of brownfield sites because it offered different strengths.

Makerfield MP Ms Fovargue warned the Inspector: “If this is approved it will give rise to urban sprawl that will see Winstanley, Goose Green and Ashton, merge together.

“The narrow buffer zone between the site and the existing residential development is just two football fields wide and just not feasible.”

She attacked the council’s attempt to cite the M6 spur road itself as a part of the buffer and insisted that the green space between Wigan and Ashton was already too narrow but vitally important to both communities.

The MP said that the community feared a massive increase in traffic from commuters and HGVs servicing the warehousing which will form much of the scheme.

She also said that she has been receiving letters from constituents about the number of lorries that have turned over on the approach to the roundabout.

But the major problem with junction 25 was that it only offered southbound access, which meant HGVs which needed to go north would travel through residential Wigan to get to junction 26 at Orrell.

Resident Beryl Cooke told the inspector that there had been 75 accidents at the motorway slip road and junction over the past three years and Junction 25 Action Group member Paul O’Leary said 144,000 vehicles used this stretch of the M6 through Wigan every day.

Council senior highways engineer Rob Owen said heavy traffic from the site would travel south down the M6 to Junction 24 before turning around and heading north.

Government Inspector Kevin Ward is expected to announce his decision about whether the strategy is sound or must be redrafted by Easter.