Glenbrook was denied approval for a 625,000 square foot industrial, storage and distribution space with offices in Ashton.
The site is located south-east of South Lancashire Industrial Estate, off Lockett Road, a section of green space residents say they use regularly.
Alan Hardy, representing Keep Ashton Green at the committee meeting, said: “It will increase HGV movements through our town centre and it will increase air pollution for thousands of residents. Regardless of financial offers to offset the loss of biodiversity, this development will destroy a huge area of local green space.
“It will contribute to climate change. Nearly 500 people in Ashton have objected to this, including councillors and our MP Yvonne Fovargue.
“Over 3,000 local residents have joined the Keep Ashton Green group, including members of this committee. The lack of road infrastructure in Ashton was highlighted by the High Street Task Force in March this year and will likely be the foundation for Ashton’s levelling-up fund.
“Is it a good idea to make a very bad situation even worse?”
Dan Symonds, development lead for the applicant, said: “I want to raise that this application is based on three key points. One, that it is an allocated employment site, it is compliant with council planning policy and it will bring huge economic benefit to the Wigan borough. I must stress that no buildings are going to be built on green belt land.
“Why is Glenbrook keen to develop this? We have had enquiries from businesses in Wigan who are looking to expand and there have been no options to do that. This will bring an initial £17m investment into the borough as well as 1,200 jobs and training opportunities as well as an initial £1.2m in business rates revenue as well.”
Safety was a key concern, with Coun Paul Kenny putting forward a motion of refusal based on the increased traffic to the road feeding the site.
The report stated there had been 50 traffic incidents in Ashton between 2015 and 2020, almost one per month, 11 of which were serious and one fatal.
Councillors and objectors believed this increase in traffic was enough to be deemed “severe”, which is a valid point for refusal, according to planning policy.
There were two votes to approve the application, based on the development bringing an improvement to the highways infrastructure, as well as safety and capacity.
However, the majority decision was to refuse and members of Keep Ashton Green were cheering in and out of the council chamber.
Afterwards, Coun Danny Fletcher said: “I would like to thank Wigan’s planning committee for rejecting Glenbrook’s proposal to build warehouses across 40 acres of green space in Greenbelt in Ashton. I’m extremely proud of the whole Ashton community coming together to fight this proposal.
“As founder of the Keep Ashton Green group, our sole purpose has been to stop this proposal from happening. Over the past 16 months we have gathered over 400 individual objections and over 3,000 members joined our KAG campaign group.
“Never have I been more proud to be the Ashton-in-Makerfield councillor, and we will be ready for any appeal that Glenbrook may put forward.”