Residents play 'waiting game' on mass building proposals as access road considered by planners

A map showing the Pocket Nook and South of Pennington sites
A map showing the Pocket Nook and South of Pennington sites

A planning application for a new road junction has reignited fears among residents of mass building work in the southern part of the borough.

A proposal for a new access point off Atherleigh Way on land just south of Arlington Drive in Leigh is being considered by Wigan Council.

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Milnes Gaskell, which has submitted the request to planners, is also looking to build spur roads and carry out associated engineering works.

The site is located between two sites included in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF), with Pocket Nook to the west and the land known as Yates’ Farm which leads to South Pennington to the east.

The submission of the planning application has caused alarm among residents and for local residents’ group Lowton East Neighbourhood Development Forum (Lendf).

Maps have been circulating online showing the sheer scale of building work that authorities have suggested could take place in Golborne and Lowton.

Lendf says everyone in the area is playing a “waiting game” before the next stage of the spatial framework is published but the only barrier to the area disappearing under a combination of new homes and industrial premises is the reluctance of several farmers to allow their land to be built on.

Lendf chair Ed Thwaite said: “When they started building the Persimmon estate we said the existing estate at Mayfield Drive couldn’t cope with the traffic and we asked both Wigan Council and the developers to put a road in off the bypass.

“They weren’t prepared to do but it has come up again now.

“There’s a lot of stuff planned for Lowton to be taken out of safeguarded land but fortunately two-thirds of it is owned by someone who won’t sell.

“There’s also land in the corner near the East Lancs Road down for industrial development, and the new junction will access that piece of land.

“They’ve also drawn in a junction on the other side of Atherleigh Way which is also down for industrial development, but fortunately all the farmers except one are against it.

“We’ve written to the spatial framework consultation telling them to remove land that’s not for sale, but the only thing stopping all this is four or five landowners with greater priorities than building houses.

“They are our godsend at the moment, otherwise we would be buried, it’s as simple as that.”

Developers have told Wigan Council planners they are requesting access to two spatial framework sites.

South of Pennington proposes around 160,000m sq of employment development, while Pocket Nook is earmarked for 600 homes, 525 of them to be accessed from Atherleigh Way, and another 15,000m sq of commercial floorspace.

Developers want to build a crossroads controlled by traffic lights, with two lanes for travelling straight on along Atherleigh Way and dedicated areas for turning right.

The building work would cover greenbelt land at Yates’ Farm, meaning the site’s openness must be preserved and developers must demonstrate why that location has to be used for transport infrastructure.

Wigan Council has spoken of its approach to the sites, first under the Core Strategy and then as part of the regional framework for future building.

Marie Bintley, assistant director for growth and housing at the town hall, said: “The council has to determine planning applications submitted to it in line with national and local planning policy and the assessment of the development proposals.

“All representations received on the application are taken into account in that assessment.

“The Pocket Nook site was already identified as land safeguarded for development in the Wigan local plan core strategy.

“The land south of Pennington is currently proposed for employment development in the consultation draft of GMSF.

“Following closure of the public consultation earlier this year representations submitted on the plan are being considered.

“We are expecting a draft plan to be published for further consultation later this year.”