Can Wigan’s infrastructure cope with almost 900 new homes a year?



Questions have been raised about the capacity for more homes in Wigan as the council revealed their targets for housing delivery. Wigan Council is committed to meeting the housing requirement of 872 new homes per year.

Of the 1,151 new homes in Wigan completed in 2021/22, 25 per cent have been delivered in Leigh. Other areas with significant new home completions are Golborne and Lowton (16 per cent), Tyldesley and Astley (16 per cent) and Standish (15 per cent).

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The trend of more development being delivered on brownfield land has continued. 52 per cent of housing has been built on brownfield sites.

The questions raised by the Confident Places Scrutiny Committee involved the bigger picture of house building. Namely, this includes where the children will go to school, how this would impact highways infrastructure, and where they will find a doctor or dentist due to capacity issues.

When asked directly whether the council was just building houses to meet the Government’s targets, David Proctor, acting assistant director for Growth and Housing, simply said ‘yes’.

“The infrastructure on the roads does not seem to be evolving as quickly as the housing,” Coun Danny Fletcher said. “This is one of the issues in Ashton.”

In response, Mr Proctor said: “Unless you reach a severe level of impact to highways, policy says you should not refuse housing developments based on highways.” He went on to say that areas where this is not the case are often chosen for developments to avoid increased traffic problems.

The controversial proposal for 1,100 new homes on Mosley Common is one example of this brought up by Coun Barry Taylor. “Some residents are finding it difficult to get school places now and some have even had to send their children out of the borough because of it,” Coun James Watson said addressing the wider context.

“We have dropped the ball not just on highways, but on general aspects of our community.”

Mr Proctor explained that school places are something taken into consideration when developments are proposed and that solution sometimes involved financial contributions to schools for expansion.

The council’s current delivery program includes:

  • Meadowvale Drive, Pemberton: Nine supported housing units and 23 general needs houses and bungalows. Completion due September 2022
  • York Street, Leigh: Five supported housing units and eight general needs

Bungalows. Completion due January 2023

  • Wharfdale, Leigh: 56 extra care apartments for over 55s. Completion due February 2023
  • Sandalwood Drive, Wigan: 51 extra care apartments, 17 general needs bungalows and one specialist bariatric bungalow. Completion due March 2023
  • Railway Arches, Leigh: 40 general needs apartments. Completion due March 2023

“The Council has performed well in recent years as regards the delivery of new homes against identified targets, after a period in the mid 2010’s when several large developments were granted planning permission on appeal,” a Delivery of New Homes report said.

“Maintaining a robust forward pipeline of sites and units is critical in maintaining this performance, in ensuring that sites come forward in a planned way and not through appeal, and in securing the social wellbeing outcomes.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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