Furious residents vow to stop landfill plan on iconic Wigan hillside

Parbold Hill
Parbold Hill

Furious residents have vowed to stop controversial plans for waste dumping at one of the best-known open spots in the area.

A planning application has been submitted for extensive work at the former Parbold Hill quarry, including getting rid of the layby currently used by countless visitors to enjoy stunning views as far as north Wales.

Campaigners are opposing the plans

Campaigners are opposing the plans

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The developers say they will eventually turn the southern slopes of Parbold Hill into wildflower meadows and footpaths, with holiday chalets in a secluded location at the bottom.

But it is the first phase of work at the spot just off the A5209 that has drawn the most anger and disbelief.

The proposals being considered by Lancashire County Council involve regrading the site, which developers say has seen the land noticeably drop away since landfill operations stopped in the 1990s, by delivering “inert materials”.

The main road will be altered and the layby removed to create an access point and turning area for vehicles which would be opposite the Miller and Carter steakhouse restaurant.

A tipping wall would also be built, with the developers saying this will eliminate the need for a wheel-washing facility, and there are also plans for a car park for visitors.

Planners have been told the material dumping will return the site to the state that was agreed for the end of landfill there.

Developers say the creation of depressions all over the hillside is causing rainwater to collect and seep into the rubbish previously placed there, which then requires pumping away for treatment.

Residents have formed the campaign group Stop Parbold Hill Landfill in a bid to halt the proposals in their tracks and stinging criticisms of the scheme have been sent to planners by local politicians.

In a seven-page submission Parbold Parish Council slammed the size and scale of the planned development, questioned the evidence for its claims about rainwater problems and said the vehicle entrance on top of Parbold Hill was extremely dangerous.

It also said there was very little evidence that the “very special circumstances” needed to permit Green Belt building were met in this case.

In its submission the elected body said: “The proposed waste development in the Green Belt would be inappropriate and highly-damaging in terms of landscape value, public amenity, highway safety and convenience, and waste planning policy.

“The proposal is in no way justified and would be so disproportionately large that it could cause significant harms in waste planning policy terms.

“The submitted ‘technical’ evidence is superficial, patchy, unconvincing and inconclusive.

“It does not demonstrate that existing conditions at Parbold Hill constitute a problem of sufficient consequence that it could only be remedied by the proposed deposit of waste.

“There is no need for the proposal and certainly none that might be sufficient to constitute the very special circumstances necessary to outweigh harm through inappropriateness together with the additional harm identified.”

The parish council also flagged up the lack of specific information over what kind of waste would be dumped at Parbold Hill in the application as a major concern.

Independent county councillor Paul Greenall has requested the full committee look at the application rather than a delegated decision being taken by officers.

He raised concerns shared by residents ranging from fears of congestion on the A5209 as lorries wait to get in and out of the site and the road struggles to cope with the aditional traffic to the loss of the views south from the hilltop.

Problems with access to Wrightington Hospital and dust blowing towards the Miller and Carter restaurant without damping facilities on site have also been raised.

The idea to turn the site over to tourism and leisure has not been without criticism either, with objectors labelling the plans for nature restoration as “vague” and saying the holiday facility represents even more building in the green belt.

Doubts have also been raised over whether covering the landfill site in topsoil will actually create the wildlife habitats envisaged.

To view the full application search for LCC/2019/0028 at planningregister.lancashire.gov.uk.