Rivalries formed over park plan

Standish Rec
Standish Rec

A number of community groups are jostling for position as the future of a Wigan recreation area remains uncertain.

Two new groups have been formed due to concerns over plans to build a car park on the Rec in Standish.

Standish Voice (SV) - the village’s official neighbourhood forum - has proposed splitting the Rec into a play park and car park.

This plan was the most popular in a public consultation run by SV, but the process has been criticised, triggering the formation of the two other groups.

The Friends of Standish Rec, supported by Standish Independent councillors George and Debbie Fairhurst, want the green space to be left as it is. They have submitted to the town hall an application for the Rec to be handed protected Village Green status.

Group spokesman and Standish Independent representative Gareth Fairhurst said: “The aim of this group is to stop the car park and keep it for children of Standish to use.

“The group say we will work with everyone who want to stop this. We hope more and more residents join in and help in whatever ways they want to.

“Village Green applications are complicated and I certainly had a number of lessons learnt over the Ashfield Park application. I am sure that some of the comments why Ashfield was not allowed actually fit the Rec.”

A separate residents’ group has also contacted the Observer to say it is campaigning against the development plans. Representative Sharon Holden said: “The (SV) consultation exercise was shambolic.

"People were only given one side of the argument. There was an online vote that discriminated against older people and those who do not have internet access.”

Group member Alan Burns added: “People are determined to stop our Rec having a car park built on it.

“We are disgusted at how people have been misled about the impact it will have.

“Support for our campaign is growing by the day and we will not stop until the car park plan is dropped.”

As a statutory body, Standish Voice has responsibility for drawing up a planning blueprint for the village until 2030.

A draft, including the Rec plans, will be made available this summer and the final plan will be subject to a village-wide referendum.

The group has previously said: “We have listened to the views of people across the village, from all walks of life, both verbally and written.

“We have tried to answer everyone’s questions, either in person, on social media, or via e-mail as fairly, accurately, promptly and politely as we could.

“How the park could look and what facilities it may have will be for further discussion and consultation – involving all sections of the community, but we believe this should include provision for children’s play, in line with the wishes attached to the original gift of the land to the council.

“The Rec is a historic part of Standish – but is also a valuable site for our future.

“Our initial 2015 survey showed the vast majority of people wanted a new park in the heart of the village and that parking was one of the biggest challenges residents and businesses wanted us to tackle.”