28th October 2016

Q:    Who are you... again?
A:    We are local residents who want to stand up for their community. Started as two separate groups 6 years ago covering Winstanley and Hawkley Hall, we now unite together under a common cause. We all have full time jobs and family commitments but have dedicated considerable time and resources to get the word out about plans for this area. This was the case in the past and now in the present; so that it does not slip under the radar!

We provided the real unbiased facts about the council's plans to develop the green belt at Winstanley and Hawkley Hall in 2012-2013. We hosted many meetings at St Aidans and Worsley Mesnes Social Club with the sole purpose of providing all residents of Winstanley, Hawkley Hall, Goose Green and Marus Bridge with the researched facts about the council plans. We had no political agenda. All we wanted was to provide a voice to all and give everyone a factual representation in order to object to the plans. During our many gatherings our local councillors joined some of the meetings and our local MP came on board later. It was our group that distributed information via leaflets, posters and various media outlets. It was the M6 South of Wigan Action Group that pursued the objections despite being told that we shouldn't. It was our group that stood and spoke at the public enquiry with many residents in the gallery supporting us. Our MP was also present. The plans were thrown out and we won.

Q:    So why are you back?
A:    In theory the green belt was safe until 2026. However it would now seem that sites which shouldn't be touched for another 13 years are now being pushed through the back door. It would also seem that these plans have been brewing for at least one year without any disclosure to the residents in this area. Our residents group has reformed and we are doing our best to give you the non political facts about the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) plans.

Q.    What is the GMCA?
A:    The Greater Manchester Combined Authority is a collection of 10 councils (WIgan being one of them) and a Mayor who work with local services, businesses, communities and partners to improve the region. The idea is that the councils work on issues that affect everyone in the region such as regeneration, attracting investment and transport. More info here.

Q:    What is the GMSF?
A:    The Greater Manchester Spatial Framework is a joint plan by the GMCA to identify the supply of land for jobs and new homes across Greater Manchester. The development plan will also address the environmental capacity setting out how to enhance and protect the quality of the natural environment, conserve wildlife and tackle low carbon and flood risk issues, so that sustainable growth can be achieved.

Q:    So who identified J25 as a building site?
A:    That would be Wigan Council. 6 years ago Wigan Council started a local development plan called the Core Strategy. It was similar to what the GMSF is now but only focused on the Wigan area. Land was put forward for development at a site known as "The Bell" near J26 at Orrell.  Around 60 hectares of Green Belt was going to be used.  The local residents got 12 months to have their say.  They objected to the proposed development.  So the council abandoned it (reasoning that the  cost would be too much).

They then (October 2010) turned their attention to the Green Belt off J25 (Winstanley and Hawkley Hall). 
Various flavours of development kept appearing from warehouses, logistics, offices, high tech manufacturing and houses.

In 2015 GMCA asked the local 10 councils to provide a list of sites for possible development. Wigan Council submitted their sites which again included M6 Junction 25. A copy of this specific list (with all other councils) is here. You will find Junction 25 in the "160810-Winter-2015-16-Call-for-Sites-REDACTED.xlsx" spread sheet. The spread sheet is hard to read because information is compacted within the cells and you have to expand the contents to read comments submitted by the councils. But we have already extracted these for you to read here.

Q:    So how do we object?

Q:    Sounds OK.  Wigan needs to keep developing to bring in the money.
A:    Yes it does.  We all agree that.  It's how they bring in the business to the area that's the issue.  The problem with the GMSF is our council decided in the interests of Wigan how best to sustain and attract more businesses by using 3rd party consultants to produce "the best type of business for Wigan is XYZ". They produced reports which define the best areas in Wigan to develop to attract particular types of businesses. It was decided in the reports that Wigan needed to attract the warehouse and distribution sector of companies to achieve maximum potential. The upshot of this is that a large site was needed to develop all of this close to and visible from the M6. Wigan apparantly had no site of such a scale that was capable of handling all these businesses. So they looked at using Green Belt land. Just to add to the mix they also suggested building more houses too.

Q:    OK so how does it effect me?
A:    There are plenty of brownfield sites in Wigan that need developing. There are plenty of empty units dotted around wasting away. We don't need to lose our precious Green Belt. Besides that there are numerous issues with developing land off J25. Plans are already underway to build on land at Landgate which includes 350 homes, supermarket with 300 car park spaces and a bypass road from Bryn Cross through Landgate. Also plans are underway for 125 homes at the abandoned office site on the A49 just past the Shell garage opposite Brewers Fayre (Taybarns) which will stretch up to the A49 roundabout.

Traffic - If you hate coming off the J25 sliproad and queuing in traffic then imagine what it's like with loads of HGV's and 3,500 extra cars going down the A49.  3,500 extra cars will have a knock on effect all over the roads.  So coming out of Winstanley, Goose Green and Hawkley Hall will be a nightmare.

Noise - The houses surrounding the Green Belt suffer noise from the existing sites.  Reeds and the ASDA warehouse (now closing down) cause huge problems.  These operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Do you like the sound of fork lift trucks beeping every ten minutes to load up HGV's?  Do you like the humming of machinery in the early hours while you try to sleep?  Imagine this on 135 hectares of warehouses.

Children - Do you want your family growing up in an area filled with pollution?

Pollution, Loss of wildlife, Loss of the landscape.

Loss of quality of life in the area.  There are many other issues affecting nearby houses such as devaluation of properties.

Flood risks - Since the Marus Bridge roundabout was replaced by a "better solution" we have had floods. The green belt can't take any more flooding and the run off now has nowhere else to go. Building more on the land will increase the risks of flooding.

Core Strategy 2013 and Earlier

The following FAQs are based on the previous campaign

15th August 2013 - Update

Q:    What stage are we at now?
A:    The government inspector has ruled in our favour and has told the council to remove M6 Junction 25 from the Core Strategy. In theory the land cannot be put forward for development for at least another 13 years.

7th February 2012 - Update

Q:    What stage are we at now?
A:    The council have ignored the residents of Winstanley, Hawkley Hall, Marus Bridge and Goose Green.  Our objections have been dismissed.  The case went to a public inquiry on 6th February.  Now we wait for the verdict.

Previous Q&A from 2011

Q:    What's all the fuss about?
A:    Wigan Council want to rip up at least 40 hectares (now 30) of Green Belt land to develop into warehouses and distribution depots (and now industrial and manufacturing).

Q:    Why?
A:    Because of the Core Strategy which defined ideal sites to develop.
Q:    The Core Strategy?  What's that?

A:    You mean you have never heard of it???  Well neither has most of the residents we speak to.  It's a huge policy that effects the whole of Wigan.  Wigan Council have been "consulting" residents and businesses on it's Local Development Framework Core Strategy.  It basically defines the main planning policy for Wigan Borough for the next 10 years and looks forward to 2026.  Through various documents it defines areas for development which the council think can improve Wigan.

Q:    Who has been informed of these proposals?
A:    The council verbally confirmed circa 1100 addresses were notified by post.  Now we have obtained the list of consultees, it is more like 550, and many of them are duplicates and commercial properties. View the list of consultees in Documentation & Links

Q:    Can we stop this happening?
A:    Absolutely! This stage is 'pre planning permission' stage, where the council 'test the water' for public opinion before deciding on which of the four sites in the borough will go through to full planning consideration

Q:    I don't live near the fields where the industrial estate is proposes, why should I care?
A:    Pollution will can't be contained easily, whether that be air, noise, light or other. Wigan's road network is notoriously poor and the A49 Marus Bridge area can't cope as it is, do we need MORE congestion as soon as you exit the J25 off the M6?

Q:      How can I stop this happening?
A:      You cannot object anymore.  The public consultation has ended.  The first consulation period was only for 6 weeks and expired at Noon 30 November 2010.  We have now finished the 2nd consultation which meant objecting based on if the policies were legal and sound.  Have a look on Documentation & Links page and view the Draft Policies document which outlines the proposal.  You can then click the link on the same page and access the council portal.  Everyone can see who objected and the grounds for their objections, or even support if they supported the plans.

Q:    Did eveyone need to fill in those forms??
A;    Sadly, Yes. The process has ground rules and one of those rules is the council will not accept phone calls, letters, emails etc as submissions.  These have to done by either filling in a 'form for submitting comments' or online on the planning portal, link to this is on the Documentation & Links page.

Q:      So is there anything else we can do?
A:      Every single person still has the option to act NOW  Support our group and come to any meetings we announce.  You will be surprised at the extra nuggets of information that come from residents which can make a difference to our campaign.

If you require further information then please do not hesitate to contact us at j25wigan@gmail.com help is available for anyone who requests it.