COUNCILLORS dismissed claims a development of 236 homes in the Lowton area of Wigan is not needed as the controversial housing development passed this week.

Members of Wigan’s planning committee approved the plans for the homes which will be built following the demolition of the Lower Pocket Nook Farm buildings.

Morris Homes can now proceed with the development on land earmarked for development in Greater Manchester’s strategic Places for Everyone plan, which was approved on March 12 and due for ratification on March 21.

The proposal was unanimously approved by the committee, despite 63 objections – including from Leigh MP James Grundy, the mayor and Leigh South ward representative Cllr Kevin Anderson; and Cllr Kath Houlton and Cllr Jenny Gregory, who both represent the Lowton East ward.

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Leigh Journal: How the Morris Homes will look in GolborneHow the Morris Homes will look in Golborne (Image: Morris Homes)
Objectors argued the development would have an ‘adverse impact’ on the ‘already over-developed’ community and that the additional dwellings "are not required".

It was also said that the local infrastructure is ‘already at capacity’ because of the road links to surrounding towns, leading to increased travel times.

There were also ‘visibility concerns’ relating to a new junction on Atherleigh Way which is part of the scheme.

Public rights of way would also be adversely affected, they said.

Another objector to the plan, Cllr Gregory said: “Atherleigh Way is already at capacity. Local services are overstretched, local primary schools are over-subscribed and more affordable homes are needed [than the 25 per cent allocation included in the plan].

Leigh Journal: The scheme will include 25 percent affordable housingThe scheme will include 25 percent affordable housing (Image: Morris Homes)
Cllr Janice Sharratt responded during the debate on the plan saying: “I particularly like the fact that first-time buyers are being offered a helping hand.

“I know that some of the objectors say that many of these houses are not needed, but rented properties are badly needed all over the borough. I don’t know what they base their argument on. I can’t see any reason why we should refuse this application.”

She was backed by Coun David Hurst who seconded her motion to approve the application. He said: “I am very happy to see 25pc affordable housing in this area.”

Included in the plan is a new road junction and ‘spine road’ designed to accommodate bus services in the future.

The application site is east of the recently cancelled HS2 line, and although a railway station is not part of the plan, the development is ‘not considered to prohibit’ such a facility from coming forward in the future.

Morris Homes will now contribute more than £1.5million towards the Golborne and Lowton Infrastructure Plan in an arrangement known as a Section 106 agreement.

It will also chip in £2,500 for the management and evaluation of a travel plan.

Leigh Journal: Wigan Council's planning committee approved the plans on March 12Wigan Council's planning committee approved the plans on March 12 (Image: LDRS)
The scheme is one of three in Wigan which feature in the Places for Everyone (PfE) plan – the blueprint for development across all the boroughs in Greater Manchester, apart from Stockport.

Others include a potential to build a link road between Junction 25 of the M6 and Junction 5 of the M61 at Westhoughton, with congestion between Wigan and Bolton seen as one of the major obstacles to growth in the north of Greater Manchester. Rail and bus links will also be improved.

The adoption of the plan means development sites at Junction 25  (employment), on land north of Mosley Common (housing) and land west of Gibfield in Atherton (housing and employment) are removed from the Green Belt.

Only a very small area of Green Belt is being lost in the Lower Pocket Nook Farm plan.