Job not done for objectors despite developer's setback for homes on green space in Wigan

Villagers still fear houses could be built on green space in Wigan – despite the local authority refusing to sell its own land to developers.

A total of 145 objections were received after Wigan Council announced the proposed sale of the land on Chorley Road in Standish – suggesting this section of the Whelley loop line walkway could play a vital part of the Standish Neighbourhood Plan that was agreed in 2019.

Residents’ group Standish Voice, which provided the largest number of objections, believes that there has been “too much housebuilding, too quickly, in Standish over the past decade” and that this could set a precedent for other areas of green land in the borough being torn up for more house building.

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The planned siteThe planned site
The planned site

The developer Jones Homes wanted to purchase the council-owned land to build 83 homes – using it as an access point for the houses to be built behind – but objectors believe the area is already overpopulated and infrastructure cannot keep up.

There were also concerns around the impact on mental health this would have, with many using the area to walk in nature – something that would be lost if the development went ahead.

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A spokesman for Standish Voice said: “We are pleased and grateful to Wigan Council for listening to local objections to selling off this piece of green space. This area was designated as amenity green space in the 2019 Standish Neighbourhood Plan and it would have been wrong to sell it for development.

“Of course, the decision will not prevent the greenfield area behind it being built out as housing as it has the first stage of planning permission. We asked the council to rescind outline permission on this land due to the inordinate length of time it is taking to progress this project – but the council has said this is not possible, which is disappointing.”

Outline planning permission was granted in August 2015 following a planning appeal, which saw the planning inspectorate overturn the council’s refusal of the development.

It saw no housing or highway infrastructure reasons to refuse housing development on the land – the reason the council gave for its decision.

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Jones Homes’ masterplan had the idea of the development being hidden within the current woodland on the site. They also said there would be cycleways and footpaths within, as well as private courts and focal points.

If the council had decided to sell the land, a prior agreement meant this would result in the development being able to proceed. However, the council took into consideration the objections and sided with the Standish residents.

A council spokesman said: “After consulting on this and listening to the views of the group and local community, we do agree with their points and decided to not sell the land. We really value the work and local knowledge of groups such as Standish Voice and will ensure we work with them at the start of the process in future to avoid any similar issues.”