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Wigan Council leader unveils borough’s new draft plan for the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework


The leader of Wigan Council has unveiled Wigan Borough’s revised part of Greater Manchester’s plan for homes, jobs and the environment.

The draft plan of the new Greater Manchester Spatial Framework was revealed today (Monday 7th January).

It sets out ambitious plans to make Greater Manchester one of the best places to live and work in the world.

The plan aims to provide the right homes and employment land in the right places for people living in the ten council districts that make up Greater Manchester.

It is a plan for growth, directing higher levels of new housing to the north of the city-region to assist in regeneration, reduce disparities between the north and south of GM, achieve a better distribution of skilled workers and broaden opportunities in Wigan Borough as a place to live.

The draft plan sets out where the locations are to allocate new homes and employment development and where land will be protected against development up to 2037.

It will also identify where new infrastructure such as transport, schools, health centres and utility networks will be located as well as protect the important green spaces in the borough and across Greater Manchester.

Having a strategic plan proposes the release of land in a planned way and protects land from developers securing incremental planning permission which could harm communities.

The plan focuses on making the best use of brownfield sites, regenerating all town centres and supports wider ambitions to build thousands of more affordable homes, create development that supports sustainable travel across the city region and helps Greater Manchester to become carbon neutral.

The first draft GMSF plan was published in 2016.

In the revised draft plan there is a reduction in the proposed loss of green belt land in Wigan Borough from 4.6% to 1.8%.  This is down from 490 hectares proposed in 2016 to 192 hectares in 2019.

The draft plan includes the revised employment and housing site allocations for Wigan Borough. These sites will be removed from the green belt. These are:

  • Land North of M6 Junction 25, Wigan for around 140,000 sqm of employment floorspace.
  • Land South of Pennington, Leigh, but now for around 160,000 sqm of employment floorspace (in the first draft it was proposed substantively for housing), with a green belt gap to be retained between the site and Pennington to the north and opportunities sought for the site to link in to guided busway services.
  • Land West of Gibfield, Atherton for 700 homes and around 45,500 sqm of employment floorspace, with a new road link to Junction 5 of the M61, substantial greenspace and improved services at, and access to, Daisy Hill station.
  • Land North of Mosley Common, Tyldesley for 1,200 homes, taking advantage of the guided busway and requiring provision for new education and health facilities.

A further site is retained in the plan at Pocket Nook, Lowton but now largely for around 600 homes (in the first draft it was proposed for employment development), with around 15,000 sqm of employment floorspace to the west of the proposed route of HS2.  This site is not in the green belt but is retained in the GMSF to ensure that is accessed from Atherleigh Way, with a through-route to Newton Road.

A number of sites, or parts of sites, that were proposed in the previous draft of the GMSF are no longer proposed for development and will not be removed from the green belt. These are:

  • Land at M6 Junction 26, Wigan, known locally as ‘The Bell’
  • Land at Castlemere Close, Winstanley (formerly part of Land at M6 Junction 25, Wigan)
  • Land South of M6 Junction 25, Bryn (formerly part of Land at M6 Junction 25, Wigan)
  • Land North of New Springs, Wigan
  • Land at Liverpool Road, Hindley
  • Land at Cleworth Hall, Tyldesley
  • Land at Astley and Boothstown

The plan adds around 55 hectares of Wigan Borough’s green land into the green belt to protect it for future generations.

This includes Hope Carr Nature Reserve at Leigh and land at Ince and Howe Bridge.

Councillor David Molyneux, Wigan Council’s leader, said: “This plan is about delivering the right homes and jobs in Wigan Borough and across Greater Manchester.

“It is crucial for our future generations who will live in the borough that we get it right when it comes to creating good jobs and homes as well as the right infrastructure to ensure we have future prosperity.

“The plan makes the most of our existing assets in the borough and focuses on making the best use of brownfield sites as well as regenerating all our town centres as places to live and protect our most valuable green spaces.

“The plan will also ensure that future development connects to public transport such as rail and the Leigh Guided Busway, reducing congestion and the need for commuting by car.

“It is vital that we get the right investment in our transport infrastructure which will support economic growth.  I am working with Transport for Greater Manchester and colleagues across Greater Manchester to secure this investment.

“It is right that this revised plan takes into account public concerns raised in the first consultation about allocating land on the green belt.

“This plan sees a reduction of more than 50% in the amount of green belt allocated and also protects more green land in the borough than before.

“I believe this plan strikes the right balance between protection of our best green spaces with the need for new homes, infrastructure and employment land in Wigan borough.”

Councillor Molyneux added it was crucial people shared their views through the consultation on the new plan.

“It is important that people have their say on this revised draft plan whether they agree with its new direction or still have concerns,” he said.

“We need to hear people’s views so that we can take this important process through to the next stage.

“We need a strategic plan so that we are in control of our destiny and development is made in the right places and in the right way.”

The number of homes for the borough which will be supplied under the plan is 21,400 up to 2037, from a total land supply for 23,092 homes needed to provide flexibility and choice. The annual requirement is 1,126 homes, which is almost identical to the annual requirement in the first draft GMSF in 2016 (1,125).  This will both meet the borough’s housing target and support Greater Manchester’s housing target.

Around 60% of these new homes will be built on brownfield land.

The draft GMSF also proposes a Wigan-Bolton ‘Growth Corridor’ as a regionally-significant area of economic and residential development.

It supports provision of a new highway connecting Junction 26 of the M6 and Junction 5 of the M61, as well as improvements to the Wigan-Atherton rail line.

The revised GMSF seeks to increase the number of people living in town centres to strengthen their role as places to live, shop and visit.  It will help minimise the need to travel, enabling more people to live close to shops and services, and increasing the local population necessary to support local facilities and support regeneration.

The revised GMSF supports measures to protect and enhance Greater Manchester’s green spaces – this includes the Greater Manchester Wetlands, much of which is in Wigan Borough.

The revised GMSF also supports measures to help Greater Manchester become ‘carbon neutral’ by 2038, by improving energy efficiency and generating renewable and low carbon energy, with the expectation that new development will be zero carbon from 2028.  There is a statement that Greater Manchester cannot support fracking.

Residents will be able to view the draft plan and give their views via the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework consultation portal which will be hosted online.

Responses will also be able to be given by email and post and a hard copy of the draft plan will also be placed in all libraries.

The consultation will start formally on Monday 21st January.  All comments must be received by Monday 18th March.

There will also be five drop-in events for residents with Wigan Council’s planning team at venues close to all the key sites.

These are:

Mosley Common: Tuesday 5th February, 4pm–7.30pm, St John’s Church Lounge, Mosley Common Road, Tyldesley, M28 1AN.

Winstanley/Hawkley: Friday 8th February, 4pm–7.30pm, Highfield Grange Community Centre, Highfield Grange Avenue, Marus Bridge, Wigan, WN3 6GH.

Atherton: Monday 11th February, 4pm–8pm, Atherton Community School, Hamilton Street, Atherton, M46 0AY.

Lowton/Pennington: Thursday 14th February, 4pm–7.30pm, Lowton C of E High School, Newton Road, Lowton, WA3 1DU.

Wigan: Tuesday 26th February, 4pm–7pm, Wigan Town Hall, Atrium, Library Street, Wigan, WN1 1YN.

After the consultation closes the comments will inform a new draft to be published for consultation in summer 2019.

It will then be submitted for independent examination prior to being adopted.


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