Petitioners snubbed in their bid to review decision on controversial Wigan borough housing development
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A petition, started by resident Andy Brown against the Mosley Common “neighbourhood” proposed by Peel L&P, urged the local authority to rethink its housing strategy which currently has plans for homes to be built on green belt land.
The petition gained 3,124 valid signatures from borough residents who wanted to see an investigatation into whether there is a need to give up green belt land for more houses that are “not needed” in their eyes. The total number of signatures exceeded 5,000, but those from Salfordians were not counted.
This meant that the petition concerning the site that sits on the border between Wigan and Salford did not have to be discussed at a full council meeting.
Peel L&P has promised new amenities to go alongside the development, a new bus stop for the Leigh Guided Busway, and more buses to go on it. Despite this, nothing is guaranteed in the masterplan about relieving the nearby road network, much to the disappointment of residents.
Responding to the petition in a letter, Aidan Thatcher, director, growth and economy for Wigan Council, said: “These sites and others have been assessed and updated as appropriate as part of the 2022 Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment. They are considered to be developable in accordance with national planning policy, which requires sites in the housing supply be in a suitable location for housing, with a reasonable prospect that they will be available and be viably developed in the future.
“The Places for Everyone Plan has been developed on this basis. The public examination of the Places for Everyone Plan includes a detailed assessment against the tests of soundness set out in national planning policy, including whether the plan is justified.
“This is the proper opportunity for the assumptions made about housing land supply to be tested, and for those concerned about any aspect of the plan to make their points to the Inspectors. Under no circumstances does the Council believe that a separate, parallel investigation is needed, or could add any value to the statutory examination process already under way.”
This letter means that the council will not investigate the matter further, but follow the guidance of the review into the Places for Everyone plan currently underway. Addressing Mr Brown’s point that a green belt site allocated in Bury was thrown out by their council, Mr Thatcher explained that “exceptional significant additional opportunities for housing in the urban area were identified by Bury Council in their 2022 update”.
This response was not a shock for Mr Brown. He is now looking ahead to the result of the review, for which he has high hopes.
“We gave Wigan Council the chance to listen to over 3,000 residents and be on the right side of history by proposing that they remove green belt sites from the Places for Everyone plan now that the figures no longer support releasing them,” he said after receiving the letter. “Fortunately the final decision sits with independent government appointed planners.
“It’s looking increasingly likely that these inspectors will recommend the removal of green belt sites based on the evidence and latest government guidance. We look forward to their decision being published later this year. “