A PETITION has been launched in opposition to long-term plans to build homes and employment space on land previously protected by the borough's green belt.

Proposals published in the New Year outline proposals to create 160,000 sq/m of business space south of Pennington in Leigh.

A nearby site at Pocket Nook in Lowton would also see 600 homes built there and around 15,000 sq/m of business space allocated there.

The plans are part of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) in which 21,400 homes are set to be delivered in the borough by 2037.

Resident Paul Sargent says the boundary line of the south of Pennington site crosses into his garden and he only become aware of the proposed development when he read about it in the Journal in January.

He said: "The purpose of the petition is to gain public opinion on this project.

"Many may be welcome this project which is perfectly fine but lots of people are dead set against it.

"I'm acutely aware houses are required throughout the country as there is a shortage but over the past few years Leigh has seen numerous projects with hundreds of homes built.

"This is bringing hundreds of people and vehicles to Leigh with no infrastructure changes.

"The roads are the same and cannot cope with the traffic. We also have no rail link. 

"There is one fire station covering the area as well as one police station which is under-manned due to cuts.

"We also have no hospital in Leigh, and no new schools for people who move into the area to send their children to."

Paul fears the south of Pennington plans, which crosses over existing houses and farms, could see "livelihoods taken away".

"I run a home dog boarding business," Paul said.

"If I lose my home where else in Leigh can I move into a 16th century cottage with a third of an acre with open views all round?

"I wouldn’t be able to so my business and livelihood would be gone.

"Pennington is our most affluent area of Leigh where people with a lot of money and assets live.

"By taking away the reason why they are there, because of the green belt and marginal homes, is only going to push those people and money away from the town.

"Many people I've spoken to have invested heavily in their own homes so when they come to retire they can sell them for a good price and live out their retirements on those assets.

"If their houses suddenly ends up in the middle of an urban sprawl with mass employment space and lots of homes, the depreciation of them will be astronomical.

"This may mean people being priced out of selling which is wrong."

A consultation on the GMSF proposals is set to take place on Thursday, February 14 between 4pm and 7pm at Lowton High School on Newton Road and Paul is encouraging fellow residents to attend.

He added: "I want everybody to be open and raise all their concerns to this proposal.

"I want people to understand that homes and businesses are under threat from this and they need to know Leigh has very little green belt space left.

"Taking this land decimates it to catastrophic levels.

"People need to know Leigh cannot cope with the traffic and infrastructure now.

"How can it cope with more mass homes and employment space?"

There will be total of five consultations in the borough this month with information from them collected together in preparation for a new draft to be published for a further consultation.

To visit Paul's petition page click here.