Housing tale of joy and despair

Coun Gareth Fairhurst
Coun Gareth Fairhurst

A GOVERNMENT inspector has given the green light for massive residential expansion in Standish by up to 1,000 homes.

But after considering evidence at the reconvened public inquiry earlier this month, Kevin Ward went on to recommend halving Golborne/Lowton’s allocation by the same proportion.

Although he has yet to stipulate where, it is expected that the Standish home building will be on “safeguarded” land currently comprising the former Standish Court golf club and rough agricultural land between Rectory Lane and the Bradley Hall Trading Estate.

In statement Inspector Mr Ward said: ‘While there would be significant benefits in terms of contributing to a five year supply, there would be a minimal effect on the total potential supply over the whole plan period in net terms compared with the council’s proposals.”

MP Andy Burnham, who has led the protests on behalf of Golborne/Lowton at being targeted for more homes, said today that he had consistently argued that the council’s plans would lead to the over-development in the east of the borough.

He said: “My constituency is one of the few in England with no rail station within it so I conveyed, in the strongest terms, to the Inspector my fears that the plan would be a recipe for gridlock.

“I am pleased that the Inspector has listened to the strength of feeling and cut by more than half the number of homes recommended by the council in Lowton and Golborne.”

Lowton Tory councillor James Grundy welcomed the news that the inspector was now limiting the home-building from almost 2,500 to what he estimates to be “about 600”.

He said: “The plan the council put forward was strongly opposed by local people, and even Andy Burnham broke ranks with his Labour Council colleagues on this issue because the plan was so poorly conceived.

“I would like to thank local people for backing me on this issue, but we still have a lot more work to do on this before the job is finished.”

But Standish independent councillors Gareth Fairhurst and George Fairhurst said today that they were “outraged” by the decision.

Existing residents fearful of the pressure on the roads infrastructure, have already told them they will leave if the housing threat comes to fruition.

Coun Gareth Fairhurst said: “We have told the council we do not want any stone unturned, even if it means that we go for a judicial review, then so be it. The council say that they are confident that their plan and numbers stack up and if this is the case they will back it up by fighting this crazy idea that the planning inspector is saying.

“If they think that residents of Standish will accept this then they are very much mistaken.”

Coun George Fairhurst said that residents had been “let down again” by the Government’s inspector and he called on the council to show that it was “with” the residents of Standish.

Council director of economy Steve Normington confirmed that it had received an indicative “broadly supportive” draft letter from planning inspector Mr Ward.

Mr Normington said: “We don’t yet know where the inspector believes these extra homes should be built or when, within the planned period, the inspector considers these additional homes should be delivered.”