New Villa fury

Long unoccupied Brentwood, Wigan Lane
Long unoccupied Brentwood, Wigan Lane

OFFICES set to adjoin one of Wigan’s best known buildings “look like a crematorium,” it was claimed.

Members of the planning committee have hailed the news that after eight years of dereliction and drug den mis-use, a scheme has now been approved that will finally return a once classic mid Victorian Villa on Wigan Lane to productive use.

Pemberton developers Cuerden are set give the site a new commercial future ... possibly in conjunction with neighbouring Wigan Infirmary.

Brentwood itself will be refurbished and returned to its former glory while a new build extension will be constructed at the rear and the side.

The future of this key home near Plantation Gates has been dogged with controversy.

First a scheme for conversion/extension for new build apartments was thrown out by the Metro and subsequently also rejected on appeal after the Inspector backed councillors’ concerns about potential over development.

Latterly a much disputed half way house hostel for people recovering from mental health episodes caused an even greater uproar before eventually being withdrawn by the crest-fallen charity which was championing it.

Although the successful office scheme was in fact to be fitted into almost exactly the same footprint size as the failed apartments scheme, this time it was backed by officers.

But some councillors remained alarmed by the admittedly distinctly functional look of the now-approved offices.

Although returning Brentwood to its former glory will be a boost for the Conservation Area, the design of the office, they claimed, will detract from it.

Bryn ward councillor Ann Rampling told the meeting: “Although the people behind it are to be commended for investing in Wigan I have to say that the design of the new offices which will be built right next to Brentwood is totally horrendous, they look really offensive to my eye and will certainly be offensive to the Conservation Area and I am disappointed that, after all this while, they could not have come up with a better looking scheme.

“When I am told that an independent design panel like Places Matter have seen the design and approve it I can only think that they are not based in Wigan and won’t have to live and work in a place where they will see it.”

She was backed by Ashton Coun Bill Clarke who said that the office design was “totally unsympathetic” with Brentwood itself and he wouldn’t want to have a home near it.

He fumed: “In fact it looks like a crematorium I know (Trafford Council’s facility in Altrincham) in a local authority not too far away.”

Head of planning and transport Mike Worden said that Cuerden’s proposals were of a “significantly different design” to the previous apartment scheme which was rejected.

This took “more account” of the “sensitive part” of the Conservation Area.