No af­ford­able homes in plan for scheme at for­mer school

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS -

PLANS for 93 homes on the site of a for­mer Leigh pri­mary school and church have been re­vealed - though none of them are af­ford­able.

Keep­moat Homes say the houses a mix­ture of two, three and fourbed­room prop­er­ties - will bring ‘much-needed new fam­ily hous­ing’ to the Higher Folds area.

The va­cant five-acre site on Rich­mond Drive once housed St Gabriel’s RC Pri­mary School, which moved to Higher Folds Com­mu­nity School in 2015, and a church.

But the de­vel­oper has ar­gued that pro­vid­ing so­cial and af­ford­able rented homes would ‘com­pro­mise’ the scheme, which is ex­pected to be com­pleted by 2023 at the lat­est.

A re­port sub­mit­ted to Wi­gan coun­cil says: “We be­lieve that the pro­posal will cre­ate a dis­tinc­tive com­mu­nity neigh­bour­hood which will tie-in the sur­round­ing neigh­bour­hood.

“The scheme will en­hance the char­ac­ter and ap­pear­ance of the sur­round­ing area to the ben­e­fit of the lo­cal com­mu­nity and pro­vide prospec­tive res­i­dents with first class liv­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion, to pro­vide much-needed new fam­ily hous­ing in this part of Leigh.”

Wi­gan coun­cil’s plan­ning pol­icy re­quires new de­vel­op­ments with over 10 houses to pro­vide 25pc af­ford­able hous­ing.

But house­builders like Keep­moat Homes can sub­mit in­de­pen­dent vi­a­bil­ity re­ports where it is of­ten ar­gued that they would lose money if forced to pro­vide af­ford­able homes.

The lo­cal au­thor­ity has also been told it will not re­ceive a com­muted sum, where de­vel­op­ers pay lo­cal au­thor­i­ties money in­stead of build­ing af­ford­able homes.

This money would be of sim­i­lar value to the build costs and will pay to­wards af­ford­able hous­ing to be pro­vided on an­other site else­where in the bor­ough.

Talks be­tween Wi­gan coun­cil and Keep­moat Homes re­gard­ing af­ford­able pro­vi­sion are on­go­ing, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

The de­vel­oper’s draft pro­pos­als were shared amongst ward coun­cil­lors and res­i­dents dur­ing a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber.

A to­tal of 15 res­i­dents sub­mit­ted feed­back forms, with 13 in favour of see­ing the va­cant site brought back into use for the ben­e­fit of the com­mu­nity.

How­ever con­cerns were raised about the site only be­ing served by a sin­gle road from Kens­ing­ton Drive, the loss of ma­ture trees and the lack of so­cial rent prop­er­ties.

The plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion will go be­fore Wi­gan coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee next year.

An artist’s im­pres­sion of the scheme

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