A newly-reformed residents’ group is determined to tackle the huge rise in bedsits and cheap flats for rent in historic properties.
The Swinley Residents’ Working Group met again at Wigan Baptist Church this week and heard local concerns about how old homes, particularly on Upper Dicconson Street, are being divided up or turned into houses of multiple occupation (HMOs).
The group members are the latest people in the area to raise worries about internal changes to houses in the Dicconson Conservation Area.
Residents have also expressed concern about drug selling and taking in the area and anti-social behaviour.
Group committee member Steve Denton said: “What came out very strongly at the meeting was a massive concern about what some of the properties are being converted into.
“We can’t just say we don’t like the idea of HMOs and we understand there’s a need to convert some of these properties but we want to see the old houses protected and there is concern about the amount of bedsits you can get out of one of these properties.
“More than 50 per cent of the buildings on Upper Dicconson Street must be HMOs. We’re at saturation point.
“There are also problems with parking in the area and there have been incidents of drug-related fighting in the streets.”
Unhappy residents have also been in dispute with Wigan Council after they accused the town hall of ignoring dozens of objections to one building being changed to an HMO and a notice for another planning application only appearing after the deadline for comments had passed.
The local authority strenuously denied any wrongdoing and challenged the claims.
Marie Bintley, assistant director for growth and housing at Wigan Council, said: “We are confident that we have consulted within our statutory duty and followed national planning policy.”
Mr Denton said PCSOs and ward councillors were keen to work with the re-established group and the Swinley and Whitley organisation would look to share knowledge with other residents’ forums in the borough.
He also says the group will promote the positive aspects of Swinley and bring the community together to improve the area.