Controversial Wigan Infirmary multi-storey car park gets council planners' backing

A new multi-storey car park for patients, visitors and staff of Wigan Infirmary has been given the green light.

Friday, 11th September 2020, 8:15 am
Updated Friday, 11th September 2020, 10:57 am
An artist's impression of the hospital's new multi-storey car park

Hospital bosses say the Freckleton Street car park, where 231 cars can currently park, will be transformed into a three-and-a-half-storey structure with 611 spaces, replacing parking spaces lost elsewhere.

The site off Wigan Lane, which is now a surface level car park, is located in a residential area 150m away from the hospital.

But once construction is complete, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust will return the 324-space Mesnes Terrace car park, which it has been leasing from Wigan Council, to the local authority.

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Freckleton Street car park as it is now

Council bosses have said the land will still be used as a car park until “alternative projects” for the town centre site come forward.

The new multi-storey car park, which was granted planning permission on Thursday, also comes after previous plans to create 72 parking spaces at a former pathology lab were scrapped in favour of another scheme for the site.

Planning officer Mike Jones was asked whether the proposal would result in an overall increase in parking spaces provided for those attending the hospital.

He said: “The key consideration is that this consolidates parking provision of 611 spaces close to the hospital site within closer walking distance for visitors and for staff as well.

“It also concentrates and promotes the parking facility in that one location.

“So overall, there’s considered to be a net gain that would provide additional spaces for the trust in this location close to the hospital site.”

The one-way system in Freckleton Street will partly be removed, but retained further along, to facilitate two-way traffic at the junction with Wigan Lane.

The plan also involves removing six residential parking spaces in the area – but replacement provision is required as part of the planning conditions.

During construction of the new multi-storey car park, additional car parking will be provided at the Water Street car park which has 306 spaces and an expanded shuttle bus service to the hospital will be available for staff.

A total of 26 residents formally objected to the development due to design, traffic flow and loss of privacy and sunlight among other concerns.

Coun Jeanette Prescott supported the application, saying that despite local opposition, the hospital cannot continue with its current parking situation.

She said: “It doesn’t matter whether you go morning or night, we’ve driven round and round and you’re eager to get in because your loved one’s hurt or your partner’s in labour and unfortunately you can’t get in.

“I think this does meet the needs in the area. I think it’s crying out for parking in that area.

“I do understand the residents’ concerns, but they’ve already got a car park behind them.”

The NHS Trust is anticipating that following the business case approval, construction work will commence in December 2020 with the new facility being complete in September 2021.

A spokesperson said: “The Trust is delighted that our planning application for the multi-storey car park development on the Freckleton Street site has been approved by the Wigan Council Planning Committee and would like to thank all involved in the project for their support.”