MP objects to Pocket Nook planning application

Please see below James Grundy MP's objection planning application A/20/88953/Major.

"Dear Sirs,

Re: Planning application reference A/20/88953/Major - Creation of new junction, spur road and associated engineering works to the land at Atherleigh Way to the South Of 75-85 Arlington Drive Leigh.

I am writing to you in my capacity both as Member of Parliament for Leigh and as a Councillor for the Lowton East ward to express my objections to planning application A/20/88953/Major.

Firstly, I have considerable concerns about the timing of this application. Whilst it should be possible for ordinary planning applications for, say, a conservatory or a housing extension for an ordinary house to proceed, it seems inappropriate for an application such as this, namely, major in scope, strategic in scale and controversial in nature, to proceed, when there is little possibility of proper public consultation taking place on the matter, given the ongoing lockdown due to the Coronavirus crisis.

Given that this is a major strategic planning application, I am concerned about the scope of the consultation process, as typical methods such as displaying signs in public places will provide less exposure, in addition to the number of people whose minds will be very much focused on the crisis we are currently facing rather than local planning matters, however important.

There are also a number of additional wide-ranging problems with the above planning application, which I believe provide a valid case for the Council’s rejection of this proposal.

I understand that one of the primary rules regarding planning applications set out by Wigan Council, is that a landowner must be notified by the applicant proposing to build upon their land before an application is submitted to the Council. If this does not occur, the application should be immediately rejected.

On this occasion it seems the owner of a majority of the land affected by the proposals for the road, Mr Adamson, was not notified by the applicant that this application was to be submitted. In addition, the landowner only found out weeks later once notices were displayed on his own land. For this reason alone, this application should no longer be considered by the Council.

In addition to this, the road proposed to be built is strongly opposed by local residents. Many people are aware that if this road is built, the likelihood of GM Allocation 50 of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework going ahead will increase. This allocation, to be referred to as the Pocket Nook allocation hereafter, will see 600 houses and 15,000 square metres of industrial space being built on precious local green space.

Many of my constituents have expressed their concerns about the changing nature of the area in which they chose to live and make their home. They believe that their village is being changed against their will from a small semi-rural community surrounded by green space to an urbanised and industrial zone. Local people wish to retain their own identity and preserve the semi-rural character of their community. 

One of the suggestions made in the proposals for this new road is that air quality will improve, congestion in the local area will be relieved, and this will in turn be welcomed by Lowton residents. This however, does not account for the increased traffic and pollution brought by the 600 additional homes and 15,000sqm of industrial space, let alone the destruction of vast swathes of green space that helps mitigate the pollution in our air. 

Another point made in the planning application for the construction of this new road states that it will help support new industrial space that will act as a replacement for the existing industrial space at Enterprise Way if HS2 Phase 2b, known as the Golborne Spur, goes ahead. 

The future of the Golborne Spur, however, is very much uncertain. A statement given to the press by the Secretary of State for Transport, The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, stated that the “writing is on the wall” with regards to the Golborne Spur, relating to its value for the taxpayer. Given that the future of the Golborne Spur is very much in question, it would seem prudent to wait for the outcome of the decision on the spur before embarking on major schemes to which it is integral.

To conclude, I strongly object to planning application A/20/88953/Major. The application itself should be instantly refused based on the basis that the developer did not inform the landowner that they were going to put forward a submission. The timing of this application is also questionable given the COVID-19 pandemic and that fact that the proposed road and the subsequent housing plans it enables are based around the Golborne Spur, upon which a decision has not yet been made. Finally, the road will in turn enable additional housing to be built that is strongly opposed by local residents, bringing increased traffic levels and air pollution to Lowton as well as permanently changing the nature of the community of Lowton St Marys.

It is for these reasons that I urge the Council to reject this application.

Yours Sincerely,

James Grundy MP"