Conservationist expresses concern over heritage and Leigh's town centre image
7:20am Thursday 29th August 2013 in NW
A FORMER planning chairman and conservationist believes Wigan Council is unconcerned about Leigh’s heritage.
John Pontin, retired regional director of the Keep Britain Tidy Group, has highlighted neglected areas in the heart of town that he feels deserve better.
Mr Pontin moved to Leigh eight years ago but his connections with the town go back much further and he knew the area during its industrial heyday.
“When Leigh had its own council it had its own way of doing things but now local people are beginning to lose their identity,” said the man who served on Derbyshire County Council.
As chairman of Buxton Council’s planning and development committee he was deeply involved with the creation of Buxton’s impressive conservation area and the listing of old buildings.
“I am particularly concerned about the former fire station in Windermere Road and the deterioration of properties in Railway Road - which is designated a conservation area.
“Why list buildings and create conservation areas and then forget them?
“Wigan Council could not care less about the value of Leigh’s heritage. Look at Turnpike House in Market Street, the upper floor is a disgrace!” said the man who, with Sir Peter Scott, founded the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust showing his interest in preserving wildlife as well as worthy buildings.
But seven years after he, as chairman of Leigh Residents Forum, complained to the then Wigan MBC Chief Executive Joyce Redfearn about the state of some of the town’s most notable buildings, he says he is still awaiting a satisfactory reply.
“It needs urgent action before it is too late,” said Mr Pontin.
A Wigan Council spokesmann said: “We are grateful these concerns have been raised and will now investigate. Our officers will visit the old fire station and look to see if any action is necessary.
“We have powers to serve a notice against a property owner if we feel the condition of a building is having a serious detrimental effect on an area.
“The condition of all our conservation areas are regularly checked. The Railway Road conservation area was reappraised last summer. This involved a public consultation. The final version of this appraisal will be published shortly.
“Anyone who purchases a building which is listed or within a conservation area will be aware of this through legal searches.”
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