A PRIVATE swimming pool used by special needs groups has been refused by the council due to the "harm" it would cause the area.

As previously reported by the Journal, a planning application had been put forward to expand a private members swimming facility in Golborne.

With demand for the private 'Swim at 55' sessions "skyrocketing" over the past two years, a second pool was hoped to alleviate this demand and reach more people across the wider region.

However, in spite of a petition signed by more than a thousand people, the second pool was refused by the council this week.

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Leigh Journal: Around 70% of the facility's members are those with special needsAround 70% of the facility's members are those with special needs (Image: Swim at 55)
As the area around Park Road in Golborne is a conservation area, the council's Tree and Woodland officers expressed concerns that a second pool would impact tree protection zones and cause damage to trees.

Planners also raised concerns that a second pool would "impact upon the character of the conservation area" and bring an increased volume of traffic to the area.

However, members disputed this as private sessions would only see a few cars coming to the facility every 60-80 minutes.

The members also felt that the "transformative power" of the facility far outweighed any potential damage the construction may have on the area, with families and special needs groups coming from far and wide to visit the pool.

Leigh Journal: Planners believe that the benefits of a new pool would not outweigh the harm causedPlanners believe that the benefits of a new pool would not outweigh the harm caused (Image: Swim at 55)
Nevertheless, after hearing comments from both sides, Wigan Council's Planning Committee refused the plans on Tuesday, December 5.

The council's planning document states that a new building to house a second pool would "appear as an incongruous addition to the Park Road Conservation Area, thereby failing to respect its character and appearance".

The report continues: "Furthermore, it would result in an unacceptable erosion of the important open space and scale of the original gardens which contribute to an understanding of the historical significance of numbers 53 and 55 Park Road.

"The proposal would therefore result in less than substantial harm to the significance of the Conservation Area, which is afforded great weight.

"Public benefits have not been sufficiently demonstrated which outweigh the harm identified."

Taking to social media to vent their frustration, members have suggested that they will appeal the decision.