FORTY flats are set to be built at a car park on the edge of Leigh town centre.

The council-owned affordable apartments at the former Railway Arches off Queen Street have been given the go ahead by the council’s planning department.

The development features 36 one-bedroom and four two-bedroom flats.

The design, drawn up by AFL Architects, includes a new 33-space car park for residents at the back of the building and trees planted around the site.

The council’s deputy leader, Cllr Keith Cunliffe, who represents the Leigh East ward, described the decision by planners as “good news” for the town.

He said: “It’s the main entrance from Leigh coming in from that end.

“I’m not surprised it got approved because it’s on a brownfield site in the town centre.

“I think the only thing from our point of view is that they ensure that it fits in with the environment and it’s the type of properties that would be socially affordable. But we need to provide housing.”

The site formerly contained terraced properties fronting Queen Street which were demolished in early 2000s.

A railway viaduct which was demolished years ago but some remnants remain.

The temporary car park currently at the Brown Street site has 73 spaces.

But it is located just 85 metres away from the Spinning Gate Shopping Centre car park which has 314 parking spaces.

Cllr Keith Cunliffe said he cannot see the development creating any “major problems” with car parking in the area.

He said: “People who work in the market would perhaps park their cars there.

“But there’s plenty of parking around. There’s on-street parking for limited periods of time and there are a number of car parks. There’s Spinning Gates, there’s the Tesco and The Loom. And there’s a small council car park.”

Wigan Council received written objections to the proposal from nine properties in the neighbourhood, according to a report by planners.

They claimed car parks in the town centre are often “full to capacity” and feared it would have a negative impact on businesses in Leigh.

Residents also raised concerns about “anti-social issues” at the estate.

Some suggested that the site should be used for recreational space.

But planning officers concluded that the proposals satisfies council policy.

They said: “The principle of residential development is considered acceptable on this brownfield site, with the layout and form of the proposal designed to complement the application site character of the local area, whilst respecting the amenity of existing neighbouring properties and achieving satisfactory amenity for prospective residents.

“The proposal would not impact the setting of nearby listed buildings and would not harm the significance of Leigh Town Centre Conservation Area or the undesignated heritage assets on Queen Street and in the surrounding area.

“The applicant has agreed to make the required contributions towards public open space and the proposal would be for 100 per cent affordable housing.”