Special report: Concerns about impact of thousands of new homes in Leigh

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A vast influx of developments springing up across Leigh is causing questions to be raised about the impact of hundreds of new houses.

Over the past four years, plans for at least 5,000 homes (not including the 1,800 homes earmarked in the North Leigh development) have been submitted in dribs and drabs, many of which have been approved with conditions.

Coun Keith Cunliffe

Coun Keith Cunliffe

Now one Leigh councillor has raised concerns about the developments, saying that the council needs to focus on roads, schools and other amenities to support residents as new families move into the town.

Coun Keith Cunliffe, for Leigh East, said: “Nationally, there’s a shortage of housing. Everyone agrees that there is a need to build more housing.

“But we need to make sure what we are building is affordable and that the associated infrastructure is considered.

“In terms of the number of applications that are coming in, it’s probably a good sign that developers are wanting to build now.

We need to make sure what we are building is affordable and that the associated infrastructure is considered

Coun Keith Cunliffe

“A couple of years ago they were building very few houses because of the failing economy.

“I am pleased to see a rise in applications but I’m conscious that wherever a planning application is put in there must be serious consideration to the infrastructure.”

Coun Cunliffe explained that the “biggest” issue threatening Leigh residents at the moment is the borough’s contribution to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework, which will see the creation of 226,000 houses across Greater Manchester in the next 20 years.

The plans will mean that 4.7 per cent of the borough’s green belt land is swallowed up for development, despite there still being more than 1,000 vacant homes in the area. According to the report laid out by Wigan Council back in October 2016, the expansion will create 200,000 new jobs in Greater Manchester, but residents remain sceptical suggesting that the positives will not outweigh the negative impact of thousands of new homes.

John Vickers, a Hindley Green resident who campaigned against the North Leigh Park development, told the Observer: “Hindley Green is one example of an area that has been massively affected by over-development.

“Nobody is against building new properties it’s just the fact that it is all based on a blatant misconception.

“We are promised thousands of jobs, and the number promised is never close to what is actually achieved.

“They promise you everything and we end up getting nothing.

“The roads in Atherton and Leigh already cannot take the traffic. At peak times the East Lancs Road is like a car park.

“If we take North Leigh as an example, there’s no planned schools.

“Also, the bus services are disgraceful, there’s no direct route to Manchester or Bolton. It’s just unacceptable.”

Both Mr Vickers and Coun Cunliffe, although not opposing the addition of new housing in the area, are hoping that both the council and developers will look at any infrastructure improvements prior to accepting any proposals or granting developers permission.

“I feel like as soon as the houses are built, the residents are just forgotten,” added Mr Vickers.

Over the past few years, land for thousands of houses has been earmarked across Leigh, Atherton, Lowton and adjacent villages.

Some of the largest of these developments include:

l Plans for 2,000 houses on land south of Hindley- Approved with conditions

l Plans for 600 homes at Garrett Hall- Approved with conditions

l Plans for 472 homes on Landgate in Ashton - Approved with conditions

l Safeguarded land for 1,150 houses on land south of Atherton - Planning application expected this year

l Plans for 453 homes on Rothwells Farm, Golborne - Approved with conditions

l Plans for 362 homes off Stone Cross Lane, Lowton - Approved with conditions

l Land for 250 homes at Hooten Gardens, Leigh- Interest from Bellway Homes and Persimmon Homes. Intention to develop land in short to medium term.