BUSINESSES at a Wigan enterprise park were given a huge boost today after councillors refused to back a plan to turn it into a housing estate.
Housing developers St Modwen Properties Ltd applied for planning permission to build 325 houses on Wigan Enterprise Park.
The enterprise park, on Seaman Way, Ince, covers an area of more than 13 hectares and is home to 25 small to large businesses based in industrial units.
St Modwen Properties Ltd applied for planning permission to build houses on 80 per cent of the enterprise park – a move which would signal its end as a vital home for businesses and employment in Wigan Borough.
Today (Tuesday) Wigan Council’s planning committee refused to support the plan – but the final decision on whether the plan can go-ahead will be made at a public inquiry.
The planning committee agreed that the loss of Wigan Enterprise Park would result in the unacceptable loss of crucial employment land in Wigan Borough.
The plan is contrary to Wigan Council’s commitment to creating more land for business in the borough.
Currently the council has a shortfall of at least 40 hecatares on its target of 200 hectares of land for business and employment purposes.
The plan also comes just as multi-million pound improvements to the park’s surrounding transport links are to be made by the council with the building of three key link roads.
These include the Amberswood Link Road, the Phoenix Way extension, which already has planning approval, and a new short link road between the two.
Together these link roads will boost the attractiveness of Wigan Enterprise Park site for employment and support new housing and employment growth in the area.
Furthermore, council planners reported that there is currently increased demand for smaller manufacturing and industrial units in the borough and the enterprise park has increasing potential to attract new tenants.
Councillor David Molyneux, Wigan Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “As part of Wigan Council’s Deal for business we are committed to creating a thriving and prosperous local economy which provides employment opportunities for local people.
“We also want to be a borough which is welcoming and attractive to inward investment by businesses from outside the borough.
“Crucial to achieving these goals is for us to have the right amount and the right type of land for businesses to establish themselves and to be able to expand if necessary.
“We are not in a fortunate position of having surplus land for business in Wigan Borough so we must be absolutely committed to retaining business land where it currently exists and proactive in seeking out new land for this crucial purpose.
“Therefore, it is the right decision that the planning committee has taken today and we now look forward to the public inquiry where the final decision will be made.”
The public inquiry is set to take place in the spring.