Unhappy residents will unite to stage a protest against a controversial housing and business masterplan this weekend.
Two groups based in Astley and Mosley Common will show their opposition to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) with walks and a high-profile rally on Sunday afternoon.
The event is being staged by Mort Lane Against GMSF and the Astley Green Residents’ Association, with protestors saying the area faces traffic chaos and a chronic lack of infrastructure if construction projects mooted for the area go ahead.
Residents are also unhappy about the potential loss of green areas and wildlife habitats under the GMSF, which is proposing building up to 1,000 homes on green belt land north of Mosley Common and also involves 400 houses at Cleworth Hall in Tyldesley and industrial space at Gibfield in Atherton.
Nick Johnston from Mort Lane Against GMSF said: “A lot of people are up in arms about this and it’s really snowballed. The infrastructure round the area is terrible as it is and getting in and out of Leigh and Tyldesley or back from Manchester is becoming more and more difficult.
“The roads just don’t seem viable and the busway is pretty full already. I used to leave home at 7.30am to go to work and now I go at 6.20am to avoid the traffic. They’re on about putting 1,000 houses on Mort Lane, 400 in Tyldesley and 1,000 between Astley and Boothstown, so if most people have two cars you can just see the increase in traffic on the roads.
“There’s also the wildlife. We’ve got a site across Mort Lane called Cutacre which has got great created newts and lapwings nest in the fields behind me every year. Obviously they will be uprooted.”
Opposition to the plans has grown rapidly, with more than 200 people currently members of the Mort Lane group on Facebook. The two groups will hold a protest at 2pm on Sunday on Mosley Common green near the junction of Mosley Common Road and Bridgewater Road. Residents will meet at 1pm, with the Mort Lane protestors assembling at the access road heading towards Little Hulton from the Sale Lane roundabout and the Astley Green Residents’ Association’s walkers meeting outside the colliery museum at Higher Green.
The framework, which runs to 2035, will see 24,895 homes and 661,500m sq of industrial space built in the borough, creating 15,000 jobs with 4.6 per cent of borough greenbelt land released for development.
The Wigan Council has defended the plans, deputy leader Coun David Molyneux saying: “It is a major opportunity for the borough. This long-term plan will set out where we can locate sought-after employment land up to 2035 that will deliver thousands of jobs as well as much-needed homes particularly for the younger generation.
“That is why we must take the decisions to provide opportunities for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They deserve good employment opportunities and the chance to buy their own home in the borough. Unfortunately there is an insufficient supply of brownfield sites to fully address housing needs that is why some greenfield land is needed.”