Firm in blockade row did not have permit

The protest involving residents and Bellway Homes on Tiverton Avenue
The protest involving residents and Bellway Homes on Tiverton Avenue

A building firm at the centre of a row over access to a controversial housing site did not have a permit to access the land, the council has admitted.

Unhappy residents on Tiverton Avenue in Leigh took the step of blockading a public pathway to stop huge vehicles from Bellway Homes getting onto the North Leigh site.

“As part of this survey the developer was required to have a permit to allow access across a public pathway but they did not apply for one before conducting the work.”

Mike Worden, Wigan Council

Neighbours took direct action for several hours on Monday afternoon as they claim they had been promised the quiet cul-de-sac would never be used as an access route for the builders.

Wigan Council has now admitted that Bellway requires permission which it has not applied for to get onto the site.

The local authority originally thought the construction firm only wanted to carry out preliminary work for which no permission is necessary.

The town hall has also agreed to help clean the area after people living there complained about the building vehicles spreading dirt all over the road surface.

Mike Worden, assistant director for planning and transport at Wigan Council, said: “We have been made aware of concerns from residents in Tiverton Avenue around access on to nearby land.

“We understand Bellway Homes are carrying out surveys on the site. These initial surveys do not require any planning permission and the information gained from them could form part of a future planning application which would go through the planning process.

“As part of this survey the developer was required to have a permit to allow access across a public pathway but they did not apply for one before conducting the work.

“Following the work there was issues with debris left on the road and footpath and we have arranged a clean-up of the road.”

Bellway Homes originally denied any wrongdoing and did not respond to a request for comment on the company not having the right access permit.

A spokesman said on Monday: “We are currently conducting some investigatory works on the land. This is being undertaken in line with all necessary permissions. We will continue to liaise closely with the council throughout the process.”

Residents originally tried to stop Bellway’s vehicles, which included a large digger mounted on an HGV, getting onto the North Leigh site by blocking the route with their cars.

They then moved the vehicles and formed a human chain in front of the public footpath after officers from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) attended and told them what they could and could not do as part of their peaceful protest.

Resident Terry Pemberton, who is also the co-ordinator of the local Home Watch scheme, said: “Our thoughts right from the beginning were that we don’t want building at the back of here, but the builders and the council told us there was no way there would be access from Tiverton Avenue.

“That would open up a private residential area with a lot of kids. People are very worried because this is a quiet neighbourhood and we were given guarantees.”