Protest groups rally again

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A second protest will be staged at Wigan town hall this evening about a controversial homes and jobs masterplan impacting on the borough.

Several campaign groups against the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) will time their action to coincide with councillors arriving for the full council meeting.

The planning blueprint, described as “massive” for the borough’s future by council bosses, has proved controversial because of the sites earmarked for development, some of which encroach on greenbelt land.

Regional leaders are currently assessing responses to the first consultation for the plans and a second draft will go before the public later this year.

Organiser Mark Bradley told the Wigan Post: “I am a project manager by profession and I know that the starting point for every project is the business case.

“Where is the business case for 22,500 new homes in the borough?

“This number of new houses will increase the number of dwellings in our borough by approximately 16 per cent.

“If the population went up by the same 16 per cent which could logically be expected, over 50,000 people would need to move into the borough. There is no evidence to support these figures and GMSF is devoid of any business case”.

Borough Labour MPs Lisa Nandy, Yvonne Fovargue and Andy Burnham have either been critical of the plans or the way in which the initial consultation was conducted.

Campaign groups have been established to oppose the development sites including sections close to junctions 25 and 26 of the M6, in addition to locations in south Hindley, Astley and Leigh. A similar protest was staged in January as councillors were urged to debate the GMSF during a full council meeting.

However, the ruling Labour group said elected members would have a chance to discuss the plans later in the year after the second draft is released. And a late bid for the issue to be added to the agenda lost out after a vote.