Build, build, build…Plot to withdraw Wigan from Places for Everyone scheme foiled

“Wigan has enough houses” says one councillor who proposed the borough should withdraw from the Places for Everyone plan.

Coun James Watson, of the Independent Network, saw his plan to join Stockport in opting out of the plan and pursuing Wigan’s best interests thwarted by Labour members in the town hall chamber this week.

Too much house building has gone on under the council leader Dave Molyneux, or “Concrete Dave”, Coun Watson jibed.

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He also added that the borough needs to focus on reducing their 13,000 person waiting list for social housing – suggesting more should be done to get developers to add more affordable housing to the market.

The Places for Everyone is the strategy for building 165,000 homes across Greater Manchester over the next 15 years.

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“We should call him ‘Concrete Dave’ for all the building going on,” Coun Watson said at the full council meeting this week. “It’s just build, build, build.

“Our roads are beyond capacity. Our residents are unable to see doctors and dentists and are unable to get their children into schools.”

Coun James Watson

Coun Watson believes Wigan are still following a plan that is helping boost Greater Manchester’s housing numbers at Wigan’s expense, despite Places for Everyone being nine ‘local plans’. He wants to see road infrastructure improvements and better amenities before more houses get built.

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Responding, Coun Paul Prescott, portfolio holder for planning, environmental services and transport, explained that house building was going on in the ‘built up’ areas of Wigan as well, not just in Lowton and Standish like Conservative councillors Edward Houlton and Ray Whittingham suggested are ‘full up’. He added that “this doesn’t change the amount of houses we have to build” as there is a set amount required by the government – 872 additional homes per annum.

The cabinet still see this as the best way forward for Wigan and for the county. Withdrawing would “create uncertainty when we need a plan in place”, Coun Prescott concluded.

Despite what was labelled as an “excellent speech” by many in the chamber, the Labour members, who have a significant majority, voted against the motion, much to the disappointment of Coun Watson and his supporters.