PLANNERS have given initial approval to the massive North Leigh Park development – the biggest such application to go before Wigan Council.

Last Tuesday councillors unanimously supported a recommendation to grant outline permission for North Leigh Park Group’s proposal to build 1,800 houses and shops and industrial units over the next 15 years on 75 hectares (approximately 185 acres) of open land between Corner Lane, Smallbrook Lane, Leigh Road and Nel Pan Lane, Leigh.

Developers say their proposals provide homes and jobs, will benefit the unemployed and provide youth employment opportunities and training and also reduce traffic congestion through a new link road between the A579 Atherleigh Way and the A578 Leigh Road.

The scheme would also help address a shortfall in the borough’s future housing provision.

The council received 170 letters of objection against the application and three from local amenity groups.

Save our Borough spokesman John Vickers said: “The objections we put forward and the questions we posed to the planning committee and it’s officers were done to get answers from council officials that will enable us to put our case in a different, impartial and more transparent arena than Wigan Planning Committee.

“To hundreds of people who sent in objections to the Planning Department we say a huge thank you and to all our supporters throughout the borough and beyond, this is only the start of larger campaign to secure a judicial review in the High Court.

“We will be discussing the next step with our legal team and there will be a public meeting in the new year to discuss the way forward in the fight against this unwanted development.

“In fact we believe that far from bringing the many benefits claimed by the developers and the council it will have a devastating effect on the wildlife and infrastructure of Westleigh and Hindley Green, plus huge adverse implications for Atherton and Hindley.”

A spokesman for the North Leigh Park Group said: “The North Leigh scheme has evolved over a period of 12 years and we have undertaken extensive consultations with the public.

“It is fundamental to growth in the borough and the new transport infrastructure will reduce the existing highway network congestion.”