House-building finally gets under way on the site of former Wigan high school

Work on a major Wigan housing development has at last begun – 12 years after the school on the land closed.

By Charles Graham
Saturday, 2nd July 2022, 3:45 pm

It was way back in 2010 that Abraham Guest High decamped from its base on Orrell Road, Orrell, to Lamberhead Green where it became Dean Trust Wigan.

Within three years of the land being vacated plans were unveiled for pensioner flats and in 2015 this “extra care scheme” was given planning permission, but they failed to materialise.

Years passed as the overgrown site became an increasing eyesore.

Preparatory work on the site of old Abraham Guest High School

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Then in July last year plans for 61 houses to be built there were approved by Wigan Council’s planning committee.

But even then the way forward wasn’t simple. As part of the plan, the developer agreed to contribute £105,469 towards open space and play improvements at Redwood Park – which is located to the south of the site – and a further £91,860 towards secondary school education.

But the development could not progress due to a legal quirk in the agreement.

An artist's impression of some of the homes planned for the former Abraham Guest High School site

Planning permission could not be granted until the landowner signed a Section 106 agreement with the local authority to secure the financial contributions.

But in this case, the council owns the land, so it could not sign a deal with itself.

However, developer Morris Homes would not buy the site so it could sign the agreement until planning permission is formally approved and a decision notice is issued.

Eventually the matter was resolved wth a new “Section 111 agreement” which effectively guaranteed that the developer would sign the Section 106 agreement once planning permission was formally granted – which it was!

Demolition experts taking apart the old Abraham Guest High School in 2010

And so the work has started on the construction of a mix of two, three and four-bedroom homes, including town houses, detached and semi-detached dwellings.

A quarter of the houses would be affordable with the remainder sold privately.

Local resident Jean Walmesley said: “I’m glad something is being done with the land at last. It was beginning to look a real mess and bring the area down.

"A dozen years is a long time for a site to stand empty, especially when there’s a housing shortage.”

Morris Homes is building 61 houses