Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Letter of Objection to allocation of land at Junction 25 to GMSF

Dear Sir,

Re. Greater Manchester Spatial Framework

We write to place on record our opposition to the inclusion of land at Junction 25, M6 allocated for future ‘Housing, Industrial and warehousing development’ as per 28.7.1 M6C1 Junction 25 (Wigan) of the Draft GMSF.

We jointly represent the ward of Winstanley within the Wigan Council Local Authority area.

As recently as 2013, an appointed HM Inspector determined that the site should remain designated as greenbelt until 2026 as part of the now adopted Wigan Local Plan and it is therefore premature for the GMCA to revisit this matter, albeit that it now proposes to include a much larger parcel of land on either side of the junction slip road.

Development on Green Belt land is supposed to be tightly controlled so that it can fulfil its main purpose: to serve as a buffer between towns, and between town and countryside. This gives the incentive to regenerate damaged and derelict land within the urban areas surrounded by Green Belt. At the same time, Green Belts bring social, environmental and economic benefits, while giving people a chance to enjoy the natural landscape on their doorsteps.

Green Belt should be cherished and serves a number of positive uses such as food production (farming activities take place within the site boundaries), flood prevention, climate change mitigation and much more.

We respectively contend that the draft GMSF has not demonstrated that exceptional circumstances exist for the land to lose its greenbelt designation. Indeed the proposal will lead, subject to planning approval, to urban sprawl and the effective merging of the Ashton/Bryn townships with Wigan.
Our objection whilst rooted in the protection of greenbelt land also lead us to extend our concern to the principles of sustainable development supported by infrastructure improvements. The junction currently provides only southbound access to the M6. There are no plans contained within the document nor as we understand are any works scheduled by Highways England to make this a two way junction so HGV traffic would have to use existing and congested local road networks to access the M6 at junction 26.

We fail to see how thousands of HGV movements per week accessing and egressing a logistics site could be defined as sustainable. We believe improved public transport is crucial to facilitating economic growth and controlling pollution and congestion in the future. The GMSF does not do enough on how the sub-region should encourage a shift away from dirtier road uses to cleaner and more efficient rail and bus transport.

We also fear for air quality in the surrounding areas. The M6 and local road network served by the A49 has seen an increase in vehicular movements. The Royal College of Physicians and of Paediatrics and Child Health estimates that air pollution contributes to around 40,000 early deaths a year, with Public Health England noting that - after recent improvements - the percentage of premature deaths attributable to the key pollutant PM2.5 is rising again (constituting over 5% of all premature deaths). This pollutant is a feature of vehicular exhausts and we are deeply concerned that HGV movements will further compromise air quality.

We are also concerned at the cumulative impact of development in the wider area. We are aware of a significant application for warehousing at Florida North near to Junction 23, M6, the proposed allocation at Junction 26, M6 (The Bell) and the recent announcement that Peel Logistics is to submit an outline application for warehousing close to Haydock Racecourse in the new year. In addition outline permission exists for housing and employment uses on land off Wigan Rd, Bryn close to the Junction 25 allocation.

Two of the above sites fall within St Helens Council jurisdiction. We are concerned that the GMSF appears to have failed to identify the requirements of neighbouring authorities through a ‘duty to cooperate’. Land assembly exercises to make the most of the considerable brownfield land resource available in the North West is required to prevent unnecessary allocations of large chunks of countryside, including designated Greenbelt.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Paul Kenny
Cllr Clive Morgan
Cllr Marie Morgan