Business park plans opposed by residents

Ed Thwaite
Ed Thwaite

RESIDENTS are promising to fight proposals from Wigan Council to put industrial buildings on land previously earmarked for housing.

The town hall is launching a consultation on plans to convert land along the East Lancs Road in Lowton into areas for business use.

However, the site is the southern part of the land off Pocket Nook Lane previously suggested for future housebuilding in the council’s Core Strategy.

That plan sparked major protests from homeowners concerned about increasing traffic chaos in the area and residents and opposition councillors are promising a fresh wave of opposition to the new plans as they say the problems around access have not been solved.

The protestors also accuse the town hall of basing proposals for future business use and housebuilding on land which the current owners are unwilling to sell.

Ed Thwaite, chair of the Lowton East Neighbourhood Development Forum (Lendf), said: “What really bothers us is the council keeps drawing this piece of land into its plans and they know they can’t get it because the owner cannot make it any clearer he won’t sell it.

“The biggest problem with putting industrial units on the land is we all know they won’t allow new junctions on the East Lancs Road, so access to the estate will be in places which are not viable, especially at the Lane Head end.

“We are gridlocked in Lowton every morning. I still think there are better places for these units, there are ex-industrial sites all over Wigan which should be used before you start putting development on open fields.

“It’s not that we don’t want people to have houses or work but we haven’t got the infrastructure to cope with what these things would bring.”

The proposals were recently discussed by Wigan Council’s cabinet at its recent meeting as part of a draft plan for the areas of the borough to be allocated for consultation concerning development under the core strategy.

The land was listed under major sites and the meeting heard that, although previously only allocated for housing, the council is now considering splitting the site with industrial units along the East Lancs Road and new homes to the north near Lowton.

The residents’ protests have received support from leader of the opposition Coun James Grundy, who represents Lowton East ward.

Coun Grundy said: “Obviously we are very disappointed with the allocation strategy. This land was proposed to be allocated for housing in the core strategy but that was thrown out in its initial form by the planning inspector.

“Wigan Council now wants to come back and use the land for industrial or business premises. We didn’t stop houses being built just to let industrial units go on it instead.

“We would have thought Wigan Council would have behaved more sensitively towards people in Lowton, given the overwhelming opposition to this land being built on the last time it was proposed.”