The consultation period on a major housing and jobs plan set to have a huge impact on Wigan has been extended through to 2017.
Town hall bosses have said the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) will be “massive” for the borough, providing thousands of homes and jobs.
The only way to effectively protect greenbelt is to have a robust plan to provide for our housing and employment needs of the future – which is what GMSF sets out to do.Coun Richard Farnell
But it has been criticised for encroaching on greenbelt land and the process in which the development sites have been chosen.
The public consultation for first draft or proposals was set to end before Christmas but has now been extended until Monday January 16.
Residents have been urged to have their say to influence the second draft of the planning framework, expected later in 2017.
Coun Richard Farnell, lead member for planning and housing at GMCA, said: “We need to meet the needs of changing economy and ageing population.
“The framework is a once in a generation opportunity to invest in public transport and roads, public services, schools, health, skills and training. These are all important for sustainable growth.
“There have been concerns raised over the proposed use of some carefully identified greenbelt land. Our focus is on brownfield land first.
“This will be in and around our towns, however there isn’t enough brownfield land to meet our housing needs. We are proposing releasing eight per cent of greenbelt.
“The only way to effectively protect greenbelt is to have a robust plan to provide for our housing and employment needs of the future – which is what GMSF sets out to do.
“I would like to thank the residents of Greater Manchester for engaging in this plan. We are extending the deadline to ensure that people have the opportunity to have their say.”
The initial plans would see almost 25,000 houses in Wigan borough with economic development sites, creating 15,000 jobs, around junctions 25 and 26 of the M6 plus sites around the Leigh, Tyldesley and Atherton areas of the borough.
Earlier this month MPs Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield) and Lisa Nandy (Wigan) chaired a public meeting about the GMSF with dozens of residents voicing their concerns. The pair, along with Labour colleague Andy Burnham (Leigh) and Conservative MP for Bolton West Chris Green took part in a Westminster debate on the subject.
Ms Fovargue said: “No one is against jobs and growth, but the plans have to demonstrate that the growth is sustainable.
“As for the warehousing development in my area, this is an area with a net loss of graduates and people who need high-quality jobs.
“We need the right jobs in the right place. We have to balance quality of life and the attractiveness of the environment.”
Coun David Molyneux, deputy council leader, said the GMSF is a major opportunity for the borough.
He added: “It is my belief that while we must continue to protect our best green spaces we must be bold and ambitious when it comes to land in other key locations.
“We must take the tough decisions to provide opportunities for the next generation.”
The consultation period has been extended to January 16, visit: www.wigan.gov.uk/gmsf