Inspector says ‘no’ to Ashfield village green

Ashfield Park, Standish
Ashfield Park, Standish

AN independent inspector has recommended an application to give Ashfield Park in Standish village green status should be turned down.

The decision comes after a two-day public inquiry took place at the beginning of September and heard evidence from Wigan Council as the objector and the applicant Gareth Fairhurst.

Wigan Council, who own the land, appointed barrister Alan Evans to run an independent inquiry into the application when it was made three years ago.

The local authority opposed the move by Mr Fairhurst, a local councillor for Standish, because the status could stop improvements to the park such as new playground equipment in the future.

Mr Fairhurst has always argued that the lack of VG status will allow for the potential sale of the land to housing developers.

Deputy Leader of Wigan Council Councillor David Molyneux said: “While we are happy that the inspector has agreed with our view that village green status is not suitable for the park we are disappointed the application has gone through a long drawn out process which has cost the council £32,000 which could have been used to protect vital services for example helping vulnerable children.

“We have always maintained that the park is safe from development and we see only one use for this vibrant green jewel in the Standish community and that is exactly what it is now – a flourishing park. We are backing that up through our Allocations Plan to enhanced protection against future developments.

“Residents in Standish will be able to have their say in a public consultation and the plan could be amended to extend the historic park and garden designation, which currently applies to part of the park, to protect the whole park. The plan will then inform planning decisions up to 2026.

“This would mean Ashfield is protected and can benefit from the £5m investment in community facilities and infrastructure from house builders in Standish.”

The independent inspector’s report will now go to the council’s regulation committee on Wednesday October 16.