Setback for controversial ‘masterplan’ for 1,100 homes on green belt in Wigan borough

Plans for 1,100 houses took a blow after objectors beat back the proposals to the cabinet after a successful call-in.

Developers Peel Land & Property had been granted approval for the scheme in Mosley Common, which will include a new guided busway stop and primary school provision.

But Coun Stuart Gerrard, who urged Wigan Council to reconsider its decision, was backed in his bid to see the plans undergo further scrutiny.

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The confident places scrutiny committee decided to send the “masterplan” back to the cabinet, where it will be reviewed again, addressing points raised by the committee.

The development would include the Leigh guided busway
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Coun Gerrard stated that overburdened roads, lack of access to healthcare providers and schools, poor transport facilities, lack of consultation and loss of green belt land were the primary sources of concern for residents.

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“Peel have a track record of peeling back the green belt, and that is why I think they are called Peel,” he told Wigan Town Hall council chamber. “This area just cannot cope.

“There are going to be many going out of the area for school. There is nothing for secondary schools in the plan.

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“They say that will be in the planning stage, but we need this to be in the plan now so that the money is there to invest into our secondary schools straight away.”

He said residents are struggling to get places with GP surgeries and dentists as waiting lists continue to grow.

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The position that the majority of the councillors took was to wait for the plan to be looked at by independent inspectors in central government as part of the Places for Everyone (PFE) scheme – a strategy setting out where 165,000 homes will be built across Greater Manchester.

This would mean a delay to proceedings until PFE is decided for the developers, who broke ground on this project in 2016.

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Resident Andy Brown told the committee a number of stories from people who have had to quit their jobs due to not being able to get to work on time, sick people who have been waiting months for doctors appointments, and some who cannot balance dropping off their children at school and getting to work because of traffic.

“This is not just any green belt land, this is M&S green belt land,” Andy quipped, referring to this land being amongst the last in the area.

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He highlighted the council’s own figures suggest demand for housing is not high in the area and it is already at 137 per cent of the demand.

Coun Paul Prescott, portfolio holder for planning, transportation and environmental services, said: “The decision was taken because the masterplan is considered to directly reflect the north of Mosley Common site allocation policy set in the emerging Places for Everyone Plan, as approved by council in July 2021, and will play an important role in guiding future planning applications on the site to help deliver its effective and sustainable development. In particular, it will support a development that delivers up to 1,100 homes of an appropriate mix of type, size and tenure to meet local needs, a new stop and increased passenger capacity on the guided busway, and new primary school provision to address the level of additional demand generated.”