Asbestos fears at Wigan building site allayed by report

An aerial view of the South of Hindley site
An aerial view of the South of Hindley site

Fears of large-scale asbestos contamination on land earmarked for a massive infrastructure have been allayed.

A report from Wigan Council for the South of Hindley site found little evidence of harmful materials at the area in Hindley Green known as the Monkey Bridge.

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Hindley and Hindley Green councillors asked the town hall to investigate further after residents claimed there had been widespread asbestos dumping by a factory previously.

Despite major asbestos deposits not being located precautions will still need to be taken if work gets under way there.

Yet the councillors say they still have major concerns about South of Hindley, which is being jointly developed by the council and Peel Holdings and involves 2,000 new homes, industrial premises and a link road on brownfield land.

Hindley councillor Paul Blay said: “The report has now been published and it didn’t turn up any significant levels of asbestos or anything of that nature.

"It appears at this stage there are none of the significant amounts of asbestos local people have suggested. It seems the land was remediated at quite large cost a good few years ago.”

Asbestos has been a major factor in the opposition to South of Hindley, but the new report does not mean councillors will now give it the green light.

Coun Blay said: “We need a lot of infrastructure to make this acceptable. There’s a lack of roads going in and we need schools and medical centres.

"They’ve promised work in Leyland Park to provide football pitches but we need to go far beyond that. Market Street is run down and the town needs work to cope with the extra people who are going to be using it.

"We’re not against building houses per se but it needs to be done correctly and at the moment it is not.”

Council assistant director for growth and housing, Marie Bintley, said: “The supplementary report has confirmed that there is no significant contamination and we are fully satisfied with these findings.”

Opposition to South of Hindley has come from across the political spectrum, with Hindley Green independent Coun Bob Brierley being particularly outspoken about the asbestos issue and criticising the first survey as insufficiently rigorous.

There is also concern at Westminster over infrastructure in the area.

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue said: “At the time the Core Strategy was considered I did raise concerns with the council about the need to ensure the infrastructure could support such development.

"I made reference to education and health provision, shopping facilities, recreation open space and in particular public transport and the road network.

"There is already a known traffic congestion problem in the Hindley and Hindley Green areas and I have made the point that this would have to be addressed if the proposed development were to be integrated successfully into the Hindley community.”