A controversial link road is another step closer as work begins to relocate pitches at a Wigan rugby club.
Work has begun to create new pitches at Orrell St James RFC as the old ones will be moved to make way for the M58 link road.,
As part of the road development, the existing sports pitches will be relocated and two additional full-sized pitches will be created, plus a training pitch.
Initial construction work began last week and will last for around three months. There will then be a 12-months settling in period where the grass will need to bed in and be at a standard to which the pitches can be played.
Orrell St James chairman, Dave Livesley, said that the team is "happy" with the deal, despite having initial concerns that the offer would fall short.
"We are happy with everything that has been agreed," he said. "Everything is staying the same.
"The new pitches can't be used until September next year but they won't be taking any land before then."
“It’s good news that the pitch is now underway as it means that we can look forward to a time when we can benefit from the new location, improved surfaces and larger pitches.
“It’s also positive that we are still able to access two of our pitches while the works are ongoing, so we’re thankful for that.”
The agreement means that the club will be given three full sized pitches and one training pitch as opposed to their current three pitches.
Although the pitches will not move far (they will be on the same site), they will be repositioned to ensure user safety.
They will also have a surfaced spectator path and ball stop netting.
During the works, only one of Orrell St James’ existing pitches will be taken out of use during construction, meaning that the club will remain operational throughout the project.
Leader of the council and cabinet member for regeneration, Councillor David Molyneux said: “This appointment is a major step forward in the M58 link road project.
“We understand the importance of the site and what it means for local young people, so we are glad that the pitch relocation will not result in any loss of provision and that we will be improving quality and quantity.
“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.”
The link road project is in line with Wigan Council’s wider regeneration plans for the borough and will connect junction 26 of the M6/M58 motorways with Wigan town centre, with the aim of both alleviating congestion on local roads and providing an alternative route for those travelling in and out of the borough.
It will work hand in hand with the A49 link road, which started construction in 2018.
For more information on the link road, visit www.wigan.gov.uk/m58linkroad.