Community development boost for Wigan

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A HUGE development is to boost the borough’s economy and tourism while tackling a massive traffic bottleneck.

The Westwood Park scheme will see the semi-derelict former power station site transformed into a large new Wigan community with enough spending power to breathe fresh life into the town centre.

A new Visitors Centre will give green day-trippers a proper introduction at last to Wigan Flashes, one of Europe’s most important wetland areas rich in rare fauna ranging from rare bugs to booming bitterns.

And a new ring road is set to ride on top of a long abandoned railway embankment connecting the site with Goose Green.

The plan signals the end to local authority ambitions to create a major business park on the site. Several blueprints have been drawn up over the years, including an eco-friendly industrial estate (the blueprint won an environmental award) and the even more ambitious Chinese textile research and development centre, all of which came to nothing.

But experts have calculated the highway for the latest scheme - long ago approved for the previous ventures - will remove more than three quarters of the traffic currently clogging Poolstock Lane during the morning and evening rush hours.

Because turning the former employment site into the 430-strong housing development with neighbourhood centre is a departure from its original planning status the multi-million-pound project - unanimously approved by councillors this week - will still need final confirmation from the Secretary of State if it is to proceed.