Outline plan for hundreds of homes on ex-pit site to be considered by Wigan planning committee

Councillors will make a decision on the first step of a masterplan put forward to transform the Pemberton Colliery site.
The former Pemberton Colliery siteThe former Pemberton Colliery site
The former Pemberton Colliery site

Developer Peel L&P is seeking permission to get the ambitious construction project, involving building up to 268 new houses on the 12-hectare brownfield site, under way.

Councillors will only get to consider access to the site at this stage, with other matters reserved.

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But even this, together with agreement of the broad principle of building houses on the old colliery, has required some complex assessment work by town hall planners.

The site at Smithy Brook Road is listed in the council’s strategic framework as land allocated for employment, which means the housing scheme runs contrary to the local authority’s Core Strategy and development plan.

However, the report for councillors says that the site, listed as Pemberton Business Park, has been listed for a number of years with no serious offers made.

The lack of likelihood of developing the site to bring in jobs or businesses, therefore, suggests that uses such as housing can be considered instead, the report says.

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The developer has suggested access to the new houses would be from a section of the route linking the M58 and M6 at Orrell Interchange to the A49 known as the Pemberton Link Road.

This already has planning permission, granted in 2018. The section connected to the housing development would run from the Smithy Brook roundabout to the junction where Foundry Lane meets Billinge Road.

Getting both the houses and the road built, the report suggests, would drastically improve the viability of building work at the former colliery and the council has proceeded on this basis.

The report concludes: “The proposal would deliver up to 268 dwellings on a previously developed brownfield site in the east-west core of the borough along with a vital piece of transport infrastructure in the form of a section of the M58-A49 Link Road.

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"The applicant has agreed to enter into a legal agreement with Wigan Council to ensure the delivery of the link road or a contribution to the council to deliver the road.

“On this basis, the scheme is considered to be acceptable.”

There has also been some discussion about affordable homes at the site.

Peel L&P has currently agreed to a figure of 13 per cent of the houses fitting into this bracket, which has been suggested by the town hall's independent viability consultants.

This is still lower than the 25 per cent target for affordable homes set down in the council’s strategic documents, but there has been much talk between the local authority and the developer over the costs of renovating the site..

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Six objections from the public have also been submitted while Network Rail has a holding objection on the proposal as it wants a contribution to improvements at Pemberton station and needs to work out an agreement with Peel over work which could have an impact on the railway.

Criticisms of the scheme from the public cite around a dozen concerns but Wigan Council said the majority of them related to reserved matters which will be considered at a later stage of the planning process.

Although the outline application only covers access and highways the report for councillors says indications have been submitted to show what the final housing development might look like if it gets the go-ahead.

It has been suggested there would be around 7.8 hectares of housing and 3.2 hectares of green infrastructure, with facilities for pedestrians and cyclists in the layout.

The majority of the houses would have two storeys.

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Peel L&P spoke positively about the proposal ahead of the planning meeting.

Jonathan England, development director at Northstone, part of Peel L&P, said: “These proposals would help Wigan to meet its housing demand and we’ve worked with the council to agree that 13 per cent of the development would be allocated to people with affordable housing needs.

“Pending approval, Peel L&P’s homebuilder Northstone would bring these plans forward to create energy-efficient family homes that will help residents to save money on their fuel bills.

“Evidence also shows that it’s unlikely the site will be redeveloped for employment use and a residential scheme will help to bring the necessary funding for the M58 link road and Peel L&P has committed to build the part which runs through the site to help secure important infrastructure for the borough.”