Victory for Atherton residents as land earmarked from development is removed from plan
A PLOT of Atherton land earmarked for a council housing development has been cut from immediate plans after protests from a local pressure group.
A 60.7-hectare plot between Howe Bridge and Hindsford was included in Wigan Council’s "core strategy", with residents angered that they were never consulted about the intentions.
If interested developers come forward, the attractive park space could be transformed into a housing estate of approximately 1,250 homes.
But, the council removed it from its core strategy on September 11 this year — although it maintained that the land has not been given protected status and could still be developed if a compelling case is presented.
David Bowen, spokesman for the group Save Atherton South, thanked local councillors, a planning expert and residents for their “tremendous” support.
He said: “We are delighted the inspector listened to what we had to say and was on our side.
“The council will now have to resist any planning applications unless the developer has got a compelling case. A planning expert we spoke to said it was something of a surprise to see the land included in plans and that it seemed like the council were pulling a rabbit from the proverbial magician’s hat.”
Wigan Council’s core strategy outlines plans to build 15,000 new homes in the borough by 2026 and Mr Bowen said the decision means the South Atherton site should not be included again until it expires.
Save South Atherton have met monthly since the site was included in the core strategy, and have arranged walks and awareness events locally to galvanise support from residents.
Mr Bowen added: “We were annoyed that they had not let anybody know of their intentions and not been up front and honest about the whole thing.
“Also, we know that at Standish, in Wigan, the council has people interested in developing land there, and that is only 10 to 15 minutes away from Atherton. In South Atherton, I’ve heard of no interest whatsoever.”
Mike Worden, Wigan Council assistant director of planning and transport, said the land was chosen as an option when identifying additional housing land.
He said: “In the light of further work undertaken by the council to assess potential supply in the borough, the inspector decided the land did not need to be identified as a broad location for housing development.
“He expressed concerns about the potential short-term impact of the development of the site on the ability to bring forward other major housing sites in the local area, such as North Leigh, which has planning permission.
“This does not mean the land is unsuitable for housing, just that it is not necessary to identify it now.”
The land is used for dog-walking and as a play area for local children, and Mr Bowen stressed that it provides a great facility for the community that should be retained.
A festival will be held on the land at some time next year, while a nature walk is planned at some point during the next six months.
Comments are closed on this article.