New hope that Wigan greenbelt may be saved

There have been multiple protests about the possibility of building on a Pemberton area of Green Belt known as The Bell
There have been multiple protests about the possibility of building on a Pemberton area of Green Belt known as The Bell
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The fate of two prized pieces of Wigan greenbelt remains in the balance after the release of a major new planning blueprint was delayed until the autumn.

Tracts at Land Gate and Orrell were earmarked for both housing and commercial use in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, causing consternation among some locals.

When Andy Burnham became mayor of Greater Manchester he spoke of maximising brownfield sites and preserving treasured green open spaces and asked for a re-draft.

That was due to have been published by now. But after various predictions about its emerging this month or late summer, Greater Manchester Combined Authority has said that all will now be revealed in October following the publication of new population projections.

A meeting of Wigan Council’s cabinet to discuss the framework, which aims “to solve the housing crisis by ensuring we have the right land available in the right places” to deliver homes and jobs needed over the next 20 years, was then cancelled.

The new population forecasts from the Office for National Statistics project lower growth, which means the region may need to build fewer houses than initially thought.

Speaking at his monthly question time event, Mr Burnham said: “About two weeks ago the ONS issued new figures around population growth and therefore housing growth and they have revised it downwards.

“I don’t think anybody in Greater Manchester would thank me for just ignoring that and ploughing on with the old figures.

“In my view it’s always right to take our time to get this plan right, because we are going to be stuck with it a long time when it gets agreed, if and when it gets agreed – I hope it will be.”

Salford mayor Paul Dennett, said: “These official projections help us to know what housing need we should be planning for in the Spatial Framework. Given this, leaders have now decided to undertake further work to ensure the implications of these figures are understood and fully realised in the next draft.”

Publication will be followed by a 12-week public consultation.