A FARMER says he has been left ‘in limbo’ over plans for a major link road to tackle congestion which has dogged commuters between Wigan and Bolton for decades.

Farm buildings in Hindley, where Brian Lee grew up, were demolished in the late 1990s after they were compulsorily purchased by the council. But the road has never been built.

The ‘elusive’ road, which would link Junction 25 of the M6 with Junction 5 of the M61 at Westhoughton, is included in Greater Manchester’s strategic development plan for the next 17 years – Places for Everyone (PfE) – which was ratified last week (Thursday, March 21). 

But that has left 58-year-old Brian Lee and his family wondering if they have a future as such a road would go right through his home and land at Haven Lea Farm.

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Leigh Journal: An aerial shot of Haven Lea farm in the 1980sAn aerial shot of Haven Lea farm in the 1980s (Image: Wigan Council)
Brian said: "We want to know, one way or the other, if we have a future on the land my family has farmed since 1953. We are in limbo over this elusive road.

“If there’s not going to be a road, then [the council should] leave us alone and let us get on with our lives. But if there is, come and talk to me.”

With his family involved in farming since the 1950s, the home that Brian and his family live in was built on adjacent land to the demolished farm in the 1970s.

The 58-year-old farmer says that there has been talk of a link road between Wigan and Bolton since the Second World War, but uncertainty over whether the road will be built is affecting how he runs the farm.

The farmer said that planning permission for a cowshed only got temporary approval because the land has been earmarked for the road.

Leigh Journal: The proposed link road would run through Bob's farmThe proposed link road would run through Bob's farm (Image: LDRS)
Wigan and Bolton Council have both pushed the Government for funding for the £140m link road four years ago, but Westminster eventually gave it the thumbs down after initially agreeing to the scheme.

Such a road – roughly following the route of the former Wigan-Whelley loop rail line – is also seen as essential to the South of Hindley Development Plan, which targets the area for 2,000 homes.

The entire link road, approximately nine miles in length, is now proposed to cost £220m and would link junction 5 of the M61 in Westhoughton with junction 26 of the M6 in Orrell, and would bring connectivity between Leigh, Hindley, Wigan, Ince, and Pemberton.

The site where the homes would go is 30 acres of land to the rear of Leigh Road at Hindley Green, with Wigan Council’s website saying that such a development would also require a new through road from the A578 Leigh Road to the A58 Liverpool Road.

Leigh Journal: The new link road would link the M6 in Orrell up with the M61 in WesthoughtonThe new link road would link the M6 in Orrell up with the M61 in Westhoughton (Image: Wigan Council)
Hindley councillor Paul Blay told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he sympathised with Brian agreeing: “Yes, he is in limbo.”

“The way I see it, there can’t be a development of 2,000 homes in south Hindley without a link road because Hindley and Hindley Green are clogged up all the time and services are stretched to the limit,” he said.

“Hindley Green hasn’t even got a medical centre, so people have to come to Hindley for their treatment.”

Leigh Journal: The proposed link road has proved controversial for building on greenbelt landThe proposed link road has proved controversial for building on greenbelt land (Image: LDRS)
During the discussions over the acceptance of the PfE plan in Wigan, it was acknowledged that traffic hold-ups between the town and Bolton were a major obstacle to economic growth in the north of Greater Manchester.

Wigan Council's website says: “The proposals for the Wigan-Bolton growth corridor could deliver a significant quantum of development in the east of the borough over future years.

“South of Hindley is an opportunity to create a new community together with supporting shops, offices and industrial and commercial premises.”

It says a new link road along with other improvements would ‘enhance connectivity to the M61 and Wigan town centre.

However, it also says: “Long term, the site is constrained by inadequate access arrangements to accommodate the strategic extension of Hindley and is dependent up on a new Wigan-M61 link road.”

Wigan Council’s assistant director for planning and regeneration David Procto said: “The Wigan East-West link road scheme and the development of the land South of Hindley are a priority for Wigan council.

"We remain committed to delivering these projects and are working closely with partners to pursue them.”