Our inter-disciplinary team have assisted Peel Investments (North) Ltd in securing a resolution from Wigan Council’s Planning Committee to grant outline permission for up to 268 new homes and section of the M58/M6 to A49 Link Road, on the site of the former Pemberton Colliery. They are now assisting Peel in concluding negotiations on the related section 106 agreement.
The former opencast coal mine, located within the urban area of Wigan, operated from 1820-1959, and Peel has invested heavily in the site’s remediation to create a development platform for this highly sustainable brownfield site. Since 2006, with the adoption of the now dated Wigan UDP, the site has been the subject of a Primary Employment Area designation; carried through to the more recent Core Strategy (2013). In 2011, Peel obtained outline planning permission for a mixed-use development of the wider Colliery site for residential and employment uses, a neighbourhood centre and hotel. The recent application site was identified for B1, B2 and B8 uses on the approved masterplan. The residential element was ultimately built out, but despite marketing the application site from 2012 onwards to the present day, no interest from B1, B2 or B8 occupiers or developers was forthcoming.
The Planning application was accompanied by a Market Report, which set out why the site was not attractive to the market and summarising the extensive marketing efforts, and a Viability Assessment, which not only demonstrated that the site was not viable for employment uses, but also that the significant abnormal costs in bring the site forward for development, including the delivery of a section of the new M48/M6 to A49 Link Road, meant that the usual contributions towards education and affordable housing could not be achieved. This was accepted by the Council’s viability consultant and a reduced level of 13% affordable housing provision was agreed, albeit with a caveat that the actual level of affordable housing to be delivered would be the subject of a further assessment at reserved matters stage.
The application masterplan and illustrative layout prepared by our team had to contend with a number of site constraints, including the mining legacy and some areas of unstable ground, pipeline easements, the adjacent railway line and the alignment of the Link Road layout.
Wigan Council’s Planning Committee unanimously voted to approve the scheme, accepting the viability case and that the site was no longer suitable for employment use. The delivery of the Link Road was also key. Ultimately, private sector funding is required to complete this important piece of local infrastructure, which will improve accessibility in the Borough and assist in the delivery of local regeneration and economic growth ambitions. Peel’s housebuilding arm, Northstone, will now bring the site forward.
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