Homes to finally go ahead on Wigan business park?

Demolition work under way to make way for new homes - finally?Demolition work under way to make way for new homes - finally?
Demolition work under way to make way for new homes - finally?
Plans for 325 homes on a Wigan business park have been recommended approval by planning chiefs – but none of them will be affordable.

St Modwen’s outline application for the development at Wigan Enterprise Park in Ince was blocked by the local authority in 2015 over concerns about the loss of employment land.

But the decision was overturned on appeal a year later, with a planning inspector ruling that the building of new houses was a better use for the “poorly performing” site.

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The new reserved matters planning application submitted by Barratt Homes proposes a mixture of two, three and four-bedroom homes on around 80pc of the industrial estate.

Documents submitted in support of the proposals say: “The proposed developments will provide 325 new homes in a range of types and sizes to meet the local area need.”

Barratt say the estate will take seven years to build on the brownfield site, with around 130 construction jobs created in each of these years.

Once completed, council tax revenue from the homes is also expected to raise £500,000 a year for the town hall.

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But the developer says providing affordable housing would impact the scheme’s viability, adding that the scheme was already costly without them.

Low land value, combined with the abnormal costs of redeveloping a brownfield site, have been blamed for the lack of affordable housing.

Ince is one of the most deprived areas of the borough and, indeed, the North West.

Wigan council planning officers say the proposals have merit despite missing out on the 25pc affordable housing requirement within council policy.

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However affordable homes could still be delivered on the site with Barratt expected to file two further viability appraisals during construction.

A report to the council’s planning committee says: “Ensuring that [brownfield] sites such as this come forward for development greatly assists the council in achieving its housing needs for the plan period up to 2037, which in turn minimises the potential need for green belt release.”

An agreement signed by the council and the landowner also requires the developer to pay £383,786 towards new classrooms at Britannia Bridge Primary School and Rose Bridge High School.

The six hectares of employment land due to be lost through the development, if approved, was described as "low quality and difficult to let" by the planning inspector.

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In his report on the the appeal decision said: “The physical condition and the configuration of the units reduce the attractiveness of the site to a range of potential occupiers.

“I do not accept that it is a valuable resource.

“I conclude that it is a poorly performing employment site which is underutilised to a significant degree and with poor prospects.”

The committee will consider the Barratt application on November 5.