Residents caught in ‘development trap’

Ed Thwaite, chairman of LENDF Lowton East Neighbourhood Development Forum
Ed Thwaite, chairman of LENDF Lowton East Neighbourhood Development Forum

A residents’ group has written to Wigan Council blasting planners over a controversial regional document which would hem them in with new developments.

The Lowton East Neighbourhood Development Forum (Lendf) hit out at the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework and accused the authorities of not listening to residents.

The group has previously said Lowton escapes relatively unscathed from the proposed long-term blueprint for meeting the area’s building needs.

But the sheer amount of developments earmarked for surrounding areas, including at the former Parkside colliery at Newton-le-Willows on an equivalent Merseyside document, risk making the area gridlocked, the group says.

Lendf suggests that if all the proposed schemes in the area go ahead there will be a continuous swathe of industrial units and new housing stretching from Newton all the way to the centre of Leigh, creating massive infrastructure and traffic problems.

Group chairman Ed Thwaite said: “I have said Lowton seems to come out of the spatial framework relatively well but it is what’s around us that is changing.

“All the way along the East Lancs Road there are going to be industrial units and then when you cross Atherleigh Way all the fields on the left-hand side are going to be housing. St Helens is also planning to take loads of green space around Parkside, going from Lane Head right down to the border with Winwick and Newton.

“It all goes back to the inquiry led by the Government inspector. He agreed with us that 3,000 houses in Lowton and Golborne was too much for the community to take, but here we are three years down the line and we’re throwing those plans up in the air and looking at grabbing even more land.

“This is not thinking about planning for the future or benefitting people who live here. It’s just driven by money and greed. Local and national government have stopped listening to people. They are destroying good land and our future and it’s time they started taking notice of the people who at the end of the day pay their wages.”

Lowton is pencilled in for housing under the framework, which looks at potential building sites up to 2035, in addition to sites close to junctions 25 and 26 of the M6 and in New Springs.

However, the developments causing more concern include Peel’s plan to construct a £161m logistics hub on the outskirts of Haydock, the Florida Farm North scheme for industrial buildings nearby (see page 15) and the ongoing efforts to build a freight rail terminal at Parkside.

Leigh and Makerfield MPs Andy Burnham and Yvonne Fovargue have committed to opposing the Peel scheme on the grounds the area will be unable to cope.

The consultation runs to January 16. To take part visit www.wigan.gov.uk/gmsf

Peel and St Helens Council says there is urgent need for more commercial developments in the area and the scheme will create hundreds of jobs.

Wigan Council deputy leader David Molyneux said: “The spatial framework is a major opportunity for the borough. It will set out where we can locate sought-after employment land up to 2035 that will deliver thousands of jobs as well as much-needed homes, particularly for the younger generation. Around two thirds of new homes will be needed because of a big increase in households aged 65 and over. People are living longer and elderly people are choosing to live independently in their own homes for longer. That is why we must take the decisions to provide opportunities for the next generation, for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They deserve to have good employment opportunities and the chance to buy their own home right here in the borough.

“I completely understand residents are concerned about the impact on roads. That is why we say that this growth can only come if significant investment in our transport infrastructure is made and the council is committed to making this happen.”