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Wigan motorway link road takes a step closer to reality

Land south of Bankes Avenue is subject to a compulsory purchase order
Land south of Bankes Avenue is subject to a compulsory purchase order

Wigan Council has announced the compulsory purchase of several pieces of land in order to make way for a controversial section of the borough’s link road.

Residents say they have not yet given up on stopping the construction of the route between the M6/M58 roundabout at Orrell and Billinge Road, Pemberton, despite council planners’ having approved it earlier this year.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy, while not opposed to the link road itself has backed concerns of householders in Meadow Brook in particular about the impact the new carriageway would have coming so close to their homes.

Some of those living on Meadow Brook - part of an estate built only a few years ago - are particularly angry at the link road because they weren’t told about it when they bought their new houses and if/when built it takes out green belt at the back of their houses and effectively “cuts them off” from the rest of Pemberton.

The maps show how the road sets off from the M58/M6 roundabout and sweeps down the back of Pemberton, becoming Leopold Street - which would be widened and upgraded - before coming out on Billinge Road near the railway station then heading down the land once occupied by Pemberton colliery before connecting with Smithy Brook Road.

This is all part of what used to be called the A5225 (or Route 225) whose aim was to create a link road between the M6 at Orrell and the M61 at Westhoughton. Construction of another section is now under way between Warrington Road at Goose Green and Westwood Park south of Wigan town centre. It will include bridges over both Poolstock and the flashes.

The maps identify dozens of sometimes small parcels of land that need to be bought up and used in order to bring the road through Pemberton.

The council says it has acquired land where possible and negotiations are ongoing with other affected parties.

Part of the scheme requires land currently within unknown ownership and these plots will need to be secured by CPO if current ownership cannot be established.

Emma Barton, assistant director for economy and regeneration at the local authority, said: “With more traffic on our roads than ever before we need to find ways to provide better connectivity so people have access to jobs and opportunities to boost the economy.

“We believe the M58 link road will also help to reduce traffic levels on one of the busiest roads in the borough, in turn helping to improve air quality and improve road safety for our local communities.

“It’s crucial for our residents and businesses across the borough, and for the growth of the local economy that we have a well-connected transport system that helps the borough be a place to live, work, visit and invest.”

Meadow Brook resident Claire Heddle, who has spearheaded protests against the road, said: “Seeing the compulsory purchase maps just brings home the worries about the road once again.

“We still have huge reservations about it. It was passed at Wigan Council planning meeting in May with literally dozens of conditions. Every time a serious issue was raised, it was met with a ‘we’ll deal with that later.’

“There is the removal of green belt, cutting us off from the rest of Pemberton, and turning the motorway roundabout into a local road so it can have pavements. There’s even an issue about the need to fortify the tunnel at Pemberton station to carry the new road because it’s not strong enough at present, but no-one seems prepared to pay for it.

“We haven’t given up the fight and solicitors are looking into it. Lisa Nandy has also offered to help.

“If someone independent can look at all the issues and say that everything has been done by the book then we will accept the decision, even if we’re not happy.

“Perhaps more residents, now they can see the maps, will see just how the road will affect them.

“For instance the houses at the bottom of Milton Grove.”

Ms Nandy said: “I was very concerned to hear about the impact that the M58 Link Road will have on residents of Meadow Brook.

“They have raised serious questions about the planning process that was followed, and I have been working with the House of Commons Library to help answer some of those questions.

“I have now received that information and will be sending it on to the

residents.

“I am very supportive of ensuring that residents also get answers from Wigan Council and to that end I have arranged a meeting with the Chief Executive, Donna Hall, in order to put those questions to her directly.”