Vacant Wigan church to be converted into affordable housing development

A former church in Wigan will be converted into apartments and the grounds will make way for houses to create 27 new homes.
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St William’s RC Church and its adjoining presbytery at Ince have been vacant since 2018 and will now be repurposed for affordable housing.

The Ince Green Lane site will contain 14 three-bed houses on the land behind the current church after the hall is demolished. Then the developers – Housing People, Building Communities – want to convert the existing church into a total of 13 one, two and three-bed flats.

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All will be sold as Shared Ownership units, which Wigan Council understands to represent 100 per cent affordable housing.

An artist's impression of the affordable housing development on St William's RC Church on Ince Green LaneAn artist's impression of the affordable housing development on St William's RC Church on Ince Green Lane
An artist's impression of the affordable housing development on St William's RC Church on Ince Green Lane
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The application attracted no objections from nearby residents and the church and presbytery buildings are both considered not to be heritage assets as they were constructed in 1929. The site was once part of the local Roman Catholic communion until numbers dwindled and another local church in the area combined communion leaving the St William’s unused.

The clubhouse on the grounds was used by local groups, such as the Scouts, but due to the condition of the building, they have since moved to a new location in the Ince area – leaving that building unoccupied too. The features of the church building will be retained within the new aprtment block.

This area of Wigan is where the council wants to see 80 per cent of new housing built in the borough. Much like a recent green light for a 47-home development at a former school nearby, this area is in high demand for more affordable housing.

The former Ince St William's ChurchThe former Ince St William's Church
The former Ince St William's Church
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The Wigan Housing Needs Assessment confirmed that there are 1,763 households in need for Wigan North, where this development will emerge. According to council figures, there is a total backlog of 656 affordable dwellings and the total annual affordable need for the sub area (Ince) is 334.

A total of 27 car parking spaces will be included in the development which sits only 400m from Ince’s centre. Public transport is also easily accessible with a bus stop on Ince Green Lane and Ince railway station just over 300m away.

A council officer’s report read: “The proposal will result in the redevelopment of the site, utilising the existing buildings where possible and bringing the site back into active use. The scheme has been carefully designed to ensure it does not materially affect the existing buildings, and complements the overall design and will deliver a high quality scheme.

“The principle of the development is therefore considered acceptable when balanced with the identified housing need which the scheme will help to deliver.”

The proposal was fully approved by Wigan Council.

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