MP objects to controversial Westleigh Waterfront amendments

Find below James Grundy MP's objection to amendments to the Westleigh Waterfront development, first approved in 2017. 

"Dear Sirs,

Re: Planning application ref: A/20/89005/NMAS - Non Material Amendment Application for previously approved Application A/16/82492/OUTMES - To substitute the approved indicative Parameters Plan (ref - PL-1415-A1-004-02-02) listed in Condition 2 of A/16/82492/OUTMES | Land Off Firs Lane & Plank Lane Leigh

I am writing to you in my capacity as Member of Parliament for the Leigh constituency, to object to the planning application reference A/20/89005/NMAS, on the behalf of my constituents.

Whilst I understand that the original application for this site, reference A/16/82492/OUTMES was approved in 2017, I do not find it appropriate that significant changes to this controversial planning application are being proposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a time of crisis like this, many people are not focussed upon local planning matters, although important, but instead looking after their friends, family and loved ones, as well as dealing with the significant changes that have been made to our everyday lives. Due to social distancing methods, standard forms of consultation such as meetings, newspaper advertisement and signs posted around the local community will not have the same exposure, and I have received numerous complaints regarding the proposed alternative methods, such as a phone-in consultation with the developer, which many believe will provide insufficient time for all residents to put forward their views.

In addition, I understand that this application includes a major change to the approved plans, a new route to the road approved in 2017. The previously approved road shows a distance from many of the residential properties near to the development, whereas the new road is significantly closer to homes on Norley Road, Jessica Way and Johnson Close.

There are already concerns that this proposed road will be used as a rat run to avoid traffic on Firs Lane, which will bring about both noise and air pollution, however residents were more willing to tolerate the previously approved road layout due to it being further away from their homes and thus having a reduced impact upon them. The new location of this road is much closer to existing homes, with many now being directly impacted by increased noise levels and pollution that this road will bring, which I believe to be unacceptable.

Many people who purchased these properties did so with the view that they would be living in a peaceful residential area. They certainly did not expect for a busy road to be built behind their home, especially for the sake of “a more efficient layout that takes advantage of the views over the canal and Pennington Flash” and in both my view and the view of many local residents, this is not sufficient reason for such major changes to be made to the previously approved road layout.

Local residents have also contacted me to raise their significant concerns regarding the potential of coal dust and associated gases being released as a result of the new location of this road. The new location of the road poses a greater risk of disturbing the reclaimed colliery spoil upon which the existing houses stand. Constituents have also expressed concerns about drainage and flood risk to the existing properties if this new road layout is approved.

Residents were reassured that in the originally approved plans, although unwelcome, the road would be located far enough away from these properties so as not to disturb the reclaimed colliery spoil. Now, they have understandable concerns for their own health if the proposed changes go ahead.

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to raise the concerns local residents had about the original planning application that was approved in 2017. The proposals for 470 new houses on the land off Plank Lane and Firs Lane were not welcomed by my constituents, not only due to the increased traffic this will bring to the area, but also due to the loss of open space in the immediate area.

I understand that this is a brownfield site and thus development on sites like this is preferable to development on green belt sites, but it is important that such development is both proportionate and retains public support where it takes place.

Therefore, it is for the reasons stated in this letter on the behalf of my constituents, that I urge the planning committee to reject this planning application. 

Yours sincerely,
James Grundy
Member of Parliament for Leigh"