Surveying work sparks fears about the future of green belt land in Wigan

The area was previously the subject of a huge campaign to see off development plans.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 2:57 pm
Updated Friday, 25th June 2021, 3:11 pm
Jimmy and Gillian Morris with Coun Eileen Rigby at Latham House Farm
Jimmy and Gillian Morris with Coun Eileen Rigby at Latham House Farm

Surveyors have been seen over the past few weeks taking measurements in the area known as The Bell.

Campaigners including Gillian Morris, whose Latham House Farm provides a winter home for Blackpool’s donkeys, previously fought to get the area taken off a Greater Manchester blueprint for meeting future housing and employment needs.

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Surveying work has been done in recent weeks at The Bell

Now, though, there are fears that once again the land could be being lined up for building work in the future.

That has alarmed Mrs Morris, as the land at Latham House Farm has been in her husband Jimmy’s family for many years and they are adamant they will not sell up.

Mrs Morris said: “The Bell got knocked back for development and we thought it would be protected for at least the next 20 years.

“We’ve noticed surveyors keep popping up around the area, taking levels on the land all around.

“We just feel like someone’s trying to tug the rug out from under our feet all the time. It’s really getting to us now.

“We feel like every time we turn around someone’s there trying to take what we’ve got.

“We don’t want to sell, money isn’t everything. This is a space that’s used by the community and good for the environment.

“People come up here to see the donkeys in winter and walk their dogs.

“We could cry with what is happening, to be honest. It’s so sad.”

Hundreds of people joined the last campaign to save The Bell and a Facebook page about the issue is still up and running.

Mrs Morris says her biggest fear is that other landowners in the area could willingly sell their pieces of The Bell for development, which could leave Latham House Farm vulnerable to a compulsory purchase order being used.

Trailers and signs calling for thoughts of development to be quashed and reminding residents of the land’s green belt status have been put in place on the farm.

Mrs Morris and her family are also being supported by local ward representative Coun Eileen Rigby.

She said: “As far as the council is concerned this is still protected green belt land.

“It’s very important to local residents. It was a hard-fought campaign to get it removed from the development plans last time and I’ve had a lot of calls about the surveying.

“People just don’t want building there. There’s not a lot of green belt land left and there are a lot of other places to fill.

“People have been fighting to prevent this for years.

“Up to now they have been successful and hopefully that will continue.”

It is understood that land developers the Harworth Group are responsible for the contractors surveying the site.

Harworth Group was approached for comment by Wigan Today.

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