Protest over development plan

Protesters gather outside Wigan Town Hall
Protesters gather outside Wigan Town Hall
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Residents' groups from across Wigan borough have staged a town hall protest over the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

The demonstration was planned to coincide with the first full council meeting of 2017 on Wednesday night.

Representatives gathered at the entrance to the town hall as councillors arrived for the proceedings.

The first draft of the GMSF is out to public consultation until next week. It proposes economic and housing developments across the region.

It has proved controversial for encroaching onto green belt land.

Organiser Mark Bradley said there is a discrepancy between the level of house building proposed (more than 20,000 in the borough) and population estimates up to 2035, suggesting there will not be a sufficient level of demand.

He told Wigan Today: "I am bewildered as to where the massive perceived demand has arisen. I believe that the true figure is nearer to 8000 new homes and I believe that most of these can be built on existing brownfield sites.

"A serious question for Wigan Council is why do they not liquidate some of the boroughs assets to build more council homes. We seriously need to address the housing crisis and releasing Green belt land for developers to build more high value homes will not meet the demands of those most in need.

"Over and above the credibility of the numbers there is a question about the infrastructure. Right across the borough, roads are often gridlocked and this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Vague promises to solve the issues with our traffic arteries just don’t convince residents that the problems will be resolved.

"I would like to see a debate in that chamber so that we can see each councillor's position on the GMSF."

Will Patterson, Green Party representative, said: "The bonus is that the consultation has been extended but nothing about the actual plan has changed. It is ecologically unsound and economically illiterate."