MP voices concerns on first draft of major plan

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Wigan MP Lisa Nandy has outlined her concerns about a major housing and jobs plan described as “massive” for Wigan by council chiefs.

A public consultation period on the first draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) has been extended until January with residents urged to take part.

Lisa Nandy and Yvonne Fovargue with councillors at a GMSF public meeting

Lisa Nandy and Yvonne Fovargue with councillors at a GMSF public meeting

Deputy leader of the council Coun David Molyneux has said the plans for Wigan would provide a massive economic boost for the borough.

But the planning blueprint has been criticised for encroaching on greenbelt land.

Ms Nandy, who took part in a Westminster debate on the GMSF last week, has written a detailed response to the region’s leaders voicing concerns about the first draft.

Greenbelt erosion, air pollution and road congestion are among the issues the MP has stated.

These areas are well used public spaces and there is a strong feeling in Wigan that the Green Belt should be protected and not infringed upon

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy

Ms Nandy’s response reads: “I believe it is wrong to consider Green Belt land for development. Green Belt land is there to prevent urban sprawl and provide space for recreation.

“These areas are well used public spaces and there is a strong feeling in Wigan that the Green Belt should be protected and not infringed upon for housing or employment development.”

Addressing environmental concerns, Ms Nandy adds: “The current proposals will hamper efforts to improve air quality by causing significantly higher number of HGV movements, increasing road traffic in areas that are already very heavily congested and reducing the Green Belt thus removing vital green spaces.”

And on congestion concerns, Ms Nandy writes: “The proposals to build 1,050 new homes on land north of New Springs will have a dramatic impact on a road which is already very heavily congested.

“There is little scope for mitigation of this problem due to existing housing and the boundaries of the canal and therefore this proposal should not proceed for further consideration.”

The GMSF proposes several sites for development across the borough, providing 25,000 houses and 15,000 jobs by 2035.

Coun Molyneux has said set out the town hall’s case for backing the plans, insisting that tough decisions need to be made to ensure a “prosperous future” for the next generations of Wiganers.

He said: “Do I want to continue to see young people have to leave the borough to seek high quality careers in the growing sectors?

“Do I want to see our residents have to continue to get on the M6 to commute to neighbouring boroughs to find the jobs that match their skills?

“The answer to both of these is no and I believe we can change these patterns by seizing the huge opportunities the GMSF plan sets out.

“ I know some of our residents say we already have empty business premises available so why the need to build more on green fields?

“The simple answer is location. You don’t have to look far south, to the Omega business park in Warrington, which will create 24,000 jobs over the coming decade, or north to Buckshaw in Chorley, which has created thousands of jobs and is home to major logistics operators as well as global leaders in advanced manufacturing, to see what can be achieved with employment land in the right location.”

Ms Nandy, who chaired a public meeting with colleague Yvonne Fovargue earlier this month for residents to voice their concerns, adds in her consultation response: “I hope you will take my comments and the strength of feeling in Wigan into account before revising this plan, and I look forward to reviewing the final version of the GMSF when it is published next year before the final round of consultation.”

The consultation period has been extended to January 16, visit: www.wigan.gov.uk/gmsf