Controversial village road widening project axed as multi-million-pound Wigan infrastructure plans are tabled

Multi-million-pound infrastructure projects set to transform Wigan communities have been recommended for approval by councillors.

By Charles Graham
Thursday, 30th June 2022, 12:30 pm

But one project that won’t now be going ahead is the widening of one of Standish town centre’s main roads, proposals for which prompted a huge public outcry.

Campaigners today voiced their delight at the recommended U-turn which will go before the council’s cabinet next week.

Also on the agenda for approval though are all manner of other suggested infrastructure improvements for Standish, Golborne and Lowton – three areas of the borough which have seen a huge increase in house-building over the years.

School Lane in Standish will not be widened after all, following opposition from local residents

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The projects, funded by developer contributions to offset the impact of some of these housebuilding schemes in these areas, total around £8m.

They include major changes to improve traffic flow and boost road safety, plus cycling and walking schemes to supplement the borough’s growing sustainable transport networks.

Coun Paul Prescott, cabinet portfolio holder for transport, environmental services and planning, said: “Throughout this process we have been focused on delivering schemes that will benefit residents in these communities the most and represent value for money.

Coun Paul Prescott

“We have listened to all the feedback received and are confident this scheme of works will be transformational and create a lasting impact.

“We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the consultation as through this investment of section 106 funding, we have the opportunity to deliver a series of projects that will make a real difference.”

The council conducted an extensive consultation exercise on viable schemes for the infrastructure levy funds in 2021, encouraging feedback from residents and businesses.

Large-scale projects that were proposed but have not been taken forward include the widening of School Lane in Standish and also changes to Golborne roundabout.

A spokesperson for residents’ group Standish Voice said: “We are pleased and relieved that this flawed scheme looks set to be dropped.

"Standish Voice Neighbourhood Forum, all three Standish councillors, and the vast majority of residents who took part in the consultation were against this proposal, which would have been a waste of £1.6m-plus and only made congestion worse in the long run.

“We are grateful that Wigan Council has acknowledged the huge opposition to this scheme and the democratic will of their own consultation is reflected in this recommendation. Wigan Council states that The Deal gives local communities a major say in the running of their local areas, which is exemplified in this decision.

“The road widening would have had a minimal impact on existing travel times but would have encouraged more through traffic and increased the likelihood of further housebuilding on Standish’s green fields, while ruining one entrance to the village.

“In May’s local election, all candidates in the poll expressed their opposition to the scheme and we have been lobbying Wigan Council, its officers and councillors, long and hard to urge them to dismiss this plan ever since it was first suggested.

“We will now work with Wigan Council to progress the other infrastructure improvements which are set to go ahead and also on our plans for much-needed improvements to Standish conservation area which will make the village centre a more attractive place to visit, shop in and work in.

“We would like to thank everyone in Standish who supported our campaign to prevent the widening of School Lane – and to Wigan Council who understood that opposition. We hope the Cabinet and Council follow the recommendation to throw out this scheme.”

The report to Cabinet states: “School Lane, Standish – widening of section between Green Lane and the A49 crossroads to three lanes: There was significant opposition to this scheme through the consultation, and the recommendation has taken this into account.

"Inclusion of this scheme would absorb a very large proportion of the overall ‘Large Scale Infrastructure’ pot in Standish, would restrict delivery of other projects and limit the ability to put forward a balanced programme combining highway improvements with sustainable travel measures.

"The latter is important as a balanced programme of transport interventions will promote sustainable travel and modal shift, with an aim being to reduce reliance on the car. The refreshed cost estimate has also significantly increased since the initial concept.”

The council says that rising costs, public feedback to these schemes and other deliverability factors have all been factored in when drawing up the recommendations for cabinet.

To ensure the funds covered all aspects permitted through section 106 funding requirements, the programme of works have been split into “large-scale” and “small-scale” schemes.

Further reports on the “small-scale” schemes – which includes community, play and leisure related projects – are expected to be published in July.

In Lowton and Golborne, the programme of works detail improvements to the A580/Newton Road junction with a new left turn and the A580/Stone Cross Lane, widening Stone Cross Lane to three lanes.

In Standish, it includes Market Street pedestrian crossing improvements and cycling and walking links between Standish Mineral Line to Gidlow Lane and the wider network.

Many of the proposals can be seen as part of wider efforts by the council not only to keep traffic flowing as the population increases through house-building, but also to encourage people to use alternative forms of transport, including walking and cycling.

Wigan has seen a proliferation of new bicycle lanes in recent years, particularly on road close to Wigan town centre, although cyclists are also being encourged to use cycle towpaths more often.