Protesters redouble their efforts for The Bell

Protesters embark on a walk around The Bell
Protesters embark on a walk around The Bell

A new protest walk took place around a Wigan community’s last piece of green belt amid continuing fears it could be built on.

There was uproar when the area in Pemberton known as The Bell appeared on the new Greater Manchester Spatial Framework - a blueprint for housing and business development for years to come drawn up by council leaders.

It proposes that planners allow the building of up to 170 homes and thousands of square feet of commercial units on what is largely farmland.

A new road would also be likely, turning the Orrell Road/M6 slip road into a crossroads.

Supporters of such schemes say that there are simply not enough brownfield sites in the borough to cope with the necessary house-building to give everyone a roof over their heads.

And there is extra pressure on local authorities to welcome new investors because by 2020 they will need to rely far more on business rates than before as government funding dries up.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has said he wants to see green belt avoided wherever possible and sent it back for a re-draft.

The new version of the document was due to be published in June but it has now been delayed until July and some sources say it could even be September before it sees the light of day.

That said, few people are expecting The Bell - and another controversial site at Landgate where a speculative 1,600-job logistics hub planning application was submitted only weeks ago - not to appear again.

Gillian Morris, whose farm on Latham Lane, Kitt Green, would be engulfed by the aforementioned homes and businesses, is completely against the scheme.

Her family has worked the land there for generations, famously winters the Blackpool beach donkeys, and she says she has no intention of selling up.

They have been at the forefront of protests in the past - including a packed out public meeting at St Francis of Assisi church with local MPs and councillors 18 months ago - and organised a protest walk around the boundary of the threatened site last year.

And the sun shone as demonstrators, including Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue, took to the route again.

The walkers handed out protest car stickers along the way.

The publication of the second draft will be followed by a 12-week consultation.