Residents' group reveals 'community garden' vision for Cherry Gardens land
Last month Wigan Council signalled its intention to hand over the field alongside the Cherry Gardens pub to the landlord of the site, with suggestions it could be used for retail development.
Householders living in and around Wigan Lane have reacted with fury, claiming they haven’t been told about the handover and are still being kept in the dark.
The council currently has a long leasehold on the site and is proposing to surrender back to the freehold owner, who also owns the Cherry Gardens public house, to develop a retail convenience store.
No application has been submitted yet and plans are still in their infancy, but residents are trying to ward off the threat of the green space disappearing entirely.
The Cherry Garden Action Group has launched a petition online, calling on the council to instead turn the gardens into a community site.
A spokesman said: “We want the council to reconsider their proposal to dispose of the land to a mega retail developer, and hand it over to the community so that a community garden can be recreated for use by the kids, and local schools for curriculum use: nature, environmental studies, science, art.
“We want to maintain it through the use of very willing volunteers in the local community of Wigan, thereby relieving our cash strapped council of further maintenance costs, thus retaining an open green space in a conservation area with preservation orders on the trees.”
They added: “We want to work with the council to find a solution, to reclaim the garden for the enjoyment of the people of Wigan.”
They revealed they aim to do this by using the council’s The Deal scheme.
The group said: “If the land is disposed of to the development company, it will be lost forever, and it will become private land, forbidden to the public.
“The entrance and exit will be situated on a very busy and at times dangerous roundabout, causing even more traffic congestion and delays.
“Many children and parents will be forced to cross this entrance/exit on their way to and from the local schools.”
The residents’ group recently unearthed documents which say the land is covered by a covenant and a 999-year lease which was signed in 1953.
A covenant also states that the land must be used as an ornamental garden for use by the public and no buildings are allowed there, except a shelter for the public and/or the storage of tools.
A Wigan Council spokesman said: “The closing date for objections to the proposals was June 13.
“We are currently in the process of looking into these objections.
“No decisions will be made until this process is completed.”
The petition can be found on Facebook on the Cherry Garden Action Group page.