Plans to transform six Wigan sites into greenbelt land

Land off Coppull lane which cold soon become greenbelt
Land off Coppull lane which cold soon become greenbelt

Six sites will be added into the borough’s green belt – including a nature reserve and a football club’s home ground – if a major planning blueprint is implemented.

The latest draft of the Greater Manchester spatial framework (GMSF) is now out to consultation and less of Wigan’s protected green space is earmarked for development compared with the 2016 version.

The decision by town hall bosses to scrap the plans for a vast site off junction 26 of the M6 near Orrell – known as the Bell – has contributed to a reduction in green belt development.

But the net figures have also been boosted by the inclusion of around 55 hectares of land across the six sites that will be added in.

This will protect them for ‘future generations’, the authority has said.

The reduction of the borough’s green belt is 1.8 per cent, compared with 4.8pc in the 2016 draft. This represents 192 hectares, instead of 490, the town hall has said.

Here is a rundown of the sites proposed to be added into the green belt:

Coppull Lane, Wigan (3.73 hectares)

The central location of new green belt land follows the route of the River Douglas on the eastern side of the Wigan Lane area of the town centre, close to the river’s dam, completed in 2011.

Its most southern point is where the river crosses underneath Central Park Way close to the Tesco Extra store.

It then runs to the northern boundary at Coppull Lane, incorporating the banks on either side of the river, close to the dam.

Crow Orchard Road, Standish (1.80h)

This site is close to the borough’s border with West Lancashire and adjacent to junction 27 of the M6. A majority of the land is sandwiched between the two carriageways of Crow Orchard Road, with a thin strip continuing westwards heading towards St Joseph’s Catholic Church.

The widening ‘V’ shape of the Crow Orchard Road carriageways as they join the A5209 and B5206 is reportedly designed to help incorporate a potential link road between the motorway junction and central Wigan, which has been a source of speculation for years.

It has since become known locally as the ‘bridge to nowhere’, as the link road, which would have run underneath the B5206, has not come to fruition.

The town hall has said adding this land to the green belt ‘should not jeopardise the construction of highway infrastructure in this location should it be proposed in the future’.

A spokesperson said the site has been added to ‘tidy up’ the green belt boundary in the area.

Hope Carr Nature Reserve (41h)

The Leigh nature reserve is managed and maintained by United Utilities.

Once an area of unused grassland alongside a waste water treatment works, it is now ‘a site that boasts a complex array of wetland habitats’, the council has said.

It is bordered by Pennington Brook to the south and Hope Carr Terrace to the east.

A spokesperson for United Utilities said: “We’re aware of the proposals for the Hope Carr Nature Reserve which was formerly part of Leigh wastewater treatment works.

“We’re happy to be involved in the consultation process to strike the right balance between extending the green belt and preserving the site of biological importance that forms part of the site whilst also allowing for any future development or expansion that might be required at the operational works.”

Land at Manchester/Ince Junctions, Ince (4.08h)

Bordered by railway lines, the site is to the east of Turner’s Flash. It incorporates sections of unused land between the West Coast Mainline route through Wigan and where the line branches off to the south west towards Bryn and Garswood stations.

A section of woodland on the east side of the rail line, to the south of Taylor’s Lane, is also included.

North of Bradley Lane, Standish (1.24h)

This strip of woodland skirts the northern boundary of the Bradley Hall Trading Estate and is bordered by the rail line to the east.

The land immediately to the north of this site is farmland on the north east border of Standish, an area that has seen significant levels of housing development in recent years.

Pennington FC playing pitches, Howe Bridge (3.13h)

This site includes the home of Pennington FC, Jubilee Park, to the south west of Atherton. It is bordered by Atherleigh Way to the west and Leigh Road to the east.

Dave Farrington, secretary of the football club, said: “This is fantastic news and secures the site against the increasing threat of the many developers we now see coming into the area.

“It will ensure that we can provide people of all ages, from four to five year old boys and girls right through the age groups to senior adults from the local community, with much needed opportunities for sporting pastimes.

“Pennington Football Club has been really active within the last 12 months working alongside Councillor John Harding in keeping the area a better place to visit, we have held regular litter picking mornings and plan to continue these events in the future to maintain the standard we now find them in.”