Housing plans are put on hold

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WIGAN’S plan to meet the borough’s housing needs until 2026 has been suspended after a Government inspector expressed serious concerns over its viability.

Inspector Kevin Ward concluded the Council’s Core Strategy document is “unsound” and the plans to supply enough housing land in the borough were unrealistic.

The council has requested the break as it believes the plan can be modified to deliver enough land, but this will require further work and consultation.

The decision came after Mr Ward reconvened the investigation into the Core Strategy for an extra hearing in April, following an initial two-week enquiry which was held in February.

The examination concluded there was a shortfall of at least 2,500 homes in the strategy, and the council needed to demonstrate the ability to build 6,000 houses in the first five years after the Core Strategy is implemented.

Mr Ward’s investigation has revealed other matters of potential concern, but these have now been temporarily set aside while the issues around housing land supply are resolved.

The council will also be required to keep Mr Ward updated throughout the suspension period, and to alert him immediately should any further delays in the process crop up.

Wigan Council director of economy Steve Normington said: “At the session in April, the view of the council and most participants was that there should be a pause in the examination in order for the council to carry out some further work.”

The council’s timetable sets out around three months of consultations and work to finalise a deliverable strategy, with the changes to the document being ready to submit to the Cabinet in mid-October.