THE latest version of a joint development masterplan for Greater Manchester has been passed by Wigan Council despite opposition from some councillors.

An eight-week public consultation on the Places for Everyone plan is due to kick off on August 9 and after that, it will be presented to the government.

There have been no changes to the borough’s part of the plan since the most recent version of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework was published last year.

But Stockport is not part of the new joint plan having pulled out in December.

The remaining nine boroughs in Greater Manchester will now have to build just under 165,000 homes by 2037 which means 972 new homes a year in Wigan borough.

This includes around 600 homes at Pocket Nook in Lowton, 1,100 north of Mosley Common and around 500 on land west of Gibfield near Atherton.

There is also 15,000 sqm of employment floorspace planned at Pocket Nook and 45,000 sqm at the west of Gibfield site as well as around 140,000 sqm at Junction 25 of the M6 which has already been granted planning permission.

Labour councillor Paul Prescott, who is the portfolio holder for planning, environmental services and transport at Wigan council, said these proposals would only result in a  0.7 pc reduction in the borough’s protected green belt.

This means 56 pc of Wigan would remain in the green belt if the plan passes.

But Tory group leader Michael Winstanley criticised the plans at a full council meeting on Wednesday (July 21) where councillors were asked to endorse it.

He said: “I actually think this whole plan has been badly handled from the start. GMSF, Great Places for Everyone – call it what you want. It’s a flawed plan.”

The Conservative councillor claimed that Wigan was not given the opportunity to have a debate about the masterplan and its previous incarnations until now.

He criticised previous consultations, saying they mean ‘absolutely nothing’, and called for the council to ‘move on’ from only consulting the public online.

And he said the owner of the Pocket Nook site does not even want to sell it.

He added: “What happens if that site doesn’t come forward? Where are the extra houses going? Does that put more green belt at risk?”

However, deputy leader Keith Cunliffe defended the joint development plan.

He said: “The worst thing to do is to not have a plan. To not have a plan is open season for developers to take and use any piece of land that they want.”

Coun Prescott said ‘almost all’ of the public consultation will take place online due to Covid-19 risks, but paper copies of the plan will be available at libraries.

Background information on the plan will be available online on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority website where comments can be submitted.

There will be further information on Wigan’s proposals on the council website.

Coun Prescott added: “The council would encourage anybody with an interest to ensure that they have their say.”

Wigan council approved the public consultation on the Places for Everyone plan but Conservative and independent councillors voted against the proposal.

Following the consultation which concludes on October 3, any comments will be sent together with the joint plan to the secretary of state for examination.