Burnham’s plea to plan inquiry

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A LOCAL MP has warned a public inquiry that council plans to meet the borough’s housing needs will lead to areas being over-developed.

Leigh MP Andy Burnham says the Core Strategy, which proposes to build more than 2,500 homes on safeguarded land in Lowton and Golborne, will lead to traffic chaos and leave the area’s infrastructure struggling to cope with an influx of new residents.

The plans were created by Wigan Council after Government planning inspector Kevin Ward told the authority its initial draft of the strategy, which sets out where houses will need to be built until 2026, had a shortfall of land.

However, the proposals to build more than 2,650 houses on three sites along the East Lancs Road, with other options for construction work on sites in Standish, Hawkley Hall and Standish Lower Ground being rejected, created uproar among residents in Lowton and Golborne.

Mr Burnham told Mr Ward, who re-opened his inquiry into the Core Strategy at the Leigh Sports Village last week, that he acknowledged the plans did not represent the council’s preferred option for building houses he still regarded the loss of valued green space in Leigh as completely unacceptable.

He said: “I travelled up from London to be at the hearing in person because I wanted to represent as best as I could the strength of feeling on the Leigh side of the borough. That was reinforced by the fact that local residents turned out in force.

“I raised with the inspector my concern that the strategy as it stands will result in the over-development of our area and total gridlock on our roads.

“It is flawed thinking to concentrate housing development in the area least well-served by public transport. I appreciate the need for new housing but argued that we need a plan which spreads it more fairly across the borough.

“I am also concerned that the strategy will not bring the kind of homes that local families need. Designating large sites off the East Lancs Road will result in homes aimed at commuters but not affordable homes for first-time buyers.

“I was pleased with how the hearing went and was grateful to the inspector for giving us such a fair hearing. We await his ruling but I am satisfied that the voice of all communities in the Leigh area has been properly heard.”