Controversial plans for homes on former Green Belt land set for go-ahead

Controversial plans for a 99-home development on land in Wigan which is no longer designated as Green Belt look set to be approved. The Bellway Homes development is earmarked for eight acres of land at Silk Street in the Mosley Common area of Tyldesley.

Councillors on Wigan’s planning committee will be advised by officers to approve the scheme when they meet on Tuesday (June 11). Some 109 households have objected to the plans, which have been submitted after the Mosley Common land had its Green Belt designation removed in the Greater Manchester strategic planning document for the next 17 years - Places for Everyone (PfE).

Approval of the scheme will be conditional on nearly £800,000 of contributions from the developer - known as a Section 106 agreement. St John’s Mosley Common Primary School will get £250,000 to cope with extra pupils; £260,663 will go towards secondary education; £82,437 will help towards road infrastructure upgrades in the area; £100,000 will be for the guided busway network; there will be a £96,400 ‘green’ contribution; and £2,500 for travel plan monitoring - relating to how children get to and from school. Play spaces will also be enhanced on an adjacent site.

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In line with Wigan council’s planning policy, 25 of the homes will be affordable, comprising 16 two-bed and nine three-bed properties, split between semi-detached houses and terraced/mews properties. A report to the committee says that the principle of residential development is now accepted following the decision to remove the site’s Green Belt designation in the PfE.

However, plans must comply with Mosley Common Masterplan, drawn up in 2022 which was drawn up in line with national planning policy. As a result,a new guided busway stop and travel hub located centrally within the site offering ‘best in class’ non-car transport are included in the scheme.

The masterplan also stipulates that there should good quality access road provided into the site, including from Mort Lane, Bridgewater Road, City Road and Silk Mill Street. Any access arrangements from Silk Mill Street should ensure good quality pedestrian and cycle linkages into the rest of the site, it says.

Existing public rights of way which run through the site must also be retained and enhanced, alongside an additional network of footways and cycle paths. However, objectors to the scheme argue that there are ‘more than enough houses’ in this area and that none of the houses proposed are ‘genuinely affordable’ with no social housing provided, which is ‘what is needed’.

They also say that the infrastructure in the area cannot cope with the current population. “The proposed access roads are not sufficiently large enough for the volumes of traffic that will result from further houses,” one says. “An alternative access road needs to be built.”

Another says that the buses serving the area - the V1 and V2 - are ‘not reliable alternatives to driving and the whole area is gridlocked daily’. They also say there are not enough doctors' surgeries.

However, the report to the committee says that within a two-mile radius of the site, there are 19 GP facilities, all of which are accepting new patients within their practice area. It goes on: “There are six dentists, however at this time, none are accepting new NHS patients, which is not uncommon throughout the North-West of England and the UK.”

The report concludes by saying: “A detailed assessment of the proposed development by officers has confirmed that its impacts on highways and transport, visual and residential amenity, the environment, including ecology, trees and landscaping, flood risk and drainage arrangements, are acceptable also, subject to appropriate mitigation which can be controlled by conditions.

“The scheme has been carefully designed to respect its relationship with adjacent properties. “Furthermore, the proposed development will meet an identified housing need in this area of the borough, which has been evidenced by the applicant and confirmed by the council’s housing Enabling team.

“The principle of the development is therefore considered acceptable when balanced with the identified housing need which the scheme will help to deliver.”