Wigan rugby club's turf to be ripped up to make way for new link road

Land south of Bankes Avenue  in Pemberton, near Orrell St James ARLFC rugby ground - part of the area Wigan Council has compulsory purchased for a new link road.
Land south of Bankes Avenue in Pemberton, near Orrell St James ARLFC rugby ground - part of the area Wigan Council has compulsory purchased for a new link road.

A Wigan rugby club will see hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of pitch ripped up and moved to make way for a controversial link road.

The town hall has called members of Orrell St James in for a meeting to discuss future work at their grounds, which will include the relocation of a floodlit pitch worth £200,000.

Although the details have not yet been finalised, Wigan Council has now appointed a contractor to carry out the work.

Chairman of Orrell St James, Dave Livesey said: “At the present moment we know nothing about what will happen. We have a meeting booked in to inform of us what’s going on.

“We do know they are taking the corner of the pitch nearest the motorway and in turn will be creating two pitches for us.

“We will be getting an extra area out of it but the pitch that they are taking has floodlights on it, we won’t be getting floodlights on the new pitches.

“We want to make sure that what we get is like for like. The pitch and floodlights cost more than £200,000 so we need to ensure we get exactly what we paid for.”

The move is just one in a string of controversial decisions taken to make way for the link road, which will join the M58 and M6.

The council says that the new 2.3km connection from the M58/M6 junction through to the existing roundabout at Smithy Brook Road, will alleviate traffic on Ormskirk Road in Pemberton.

Plans were given the go-ahead by councillors in May last year. Becca Heron, director for economy and skills, said: “We have been working closely with the club since 2017 when consultation started around the proposed link road to ensure they are kept fully updated with what’s happening and what it means for them. The pitch relocation will not result in any loss of provision and we will be improving quality and quantity.

“We will also be trying to ensure disruption is minimised as much as possible throughout the work and only one pitch will be taken out of use during construction as the physical space is needed to create the two new pitches.

“With more traffic on our roads than ever before we need to find ways to provide better connectivity so people have access to jobs and opportunities to boost the economy.

“We believe the M58 link road will also help to reduce traffic levels on one of the busiest roads in the borough, in turn helping to improve air quality and improve road safety for our local communities.”