Homes plan fury

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PROTESTORS and politicians joined forces to register their disapproval of controversial plans to build thousands of new homes in Lowton and Golborne.

Residents objecting to the implementation of Wigan Council’s Core Strategy, which could see around 2,650 new houses built by 2026, were joined by Leigh MP Andy Burnham and Coun Pam Gilligan for Lowton East ward to show the strength of feeling on the issue.

The Core Strategy is currently suspended after the Government Inspector, Kevin Ward, identified a shortfall in the amount of land which could be used for house building.

The council contends that three sites of safeguarded land in Lowton and Golborne can be used to built as many as 1,750 properties, with a further 600 homes proposed for the East Lancashire Road corridor.

Protestors have reacted with fury to the plans, saying the area’s infrastructure would be unable to cope with the additional residents and the borough cannot afford to lose more of its green spaces.

Mr Burnham said that, while understanding the pressure on the local authority to find land to meet the borough’s future housing needs, he regards building on large swathes of open space as unacceptable and has promised to put his objections directly to the inspector when the public inquiry re-opens later this year.

He said: “It makes no sense at all to have strategy to concentrate the building of new homes houses in the parts of our borough that are the poorest serviced by public transport. Leigh is one of the largest towns in England without a railway station and already our roads are heavily congested.

“Planning new major development in the East, on top of existing plans at North Leigh and Bickershaw South, would be a recipe for total gridlock and have a detrimental impact on the quality of life for local people.

“I believe it would be much fairer to all residents in the borough to look to meet the requirement for new housing by seeking to share the burden across all the communities of the borough, prioritising the use of existing brown-field sites and making better use of vacant land and properties in our town centres.”

Coun Gilligan said: “This is an issue that transcends political lines in Lowton. I have met with Lord Peter Smith to raise my objections on behalf of the local community.

“Lowton cannot and should not be the sacrificial lamb at the altar of housing development so I am delighted that Andy Burnham MP is leading the fight against this unacceptable proposal.”