Wrightington residents have formed a residents’ campaign group W-RAGE (Wrightington Residents Against Greenbelt Erosion) in opposition to Wigan Athletic Football Club’s plans to develop a new training facility in the village.
Wigan Athletic Football Club has proposed plans to create an elite training ground in Wrightington for exclusive use by the first team, under-18 and under-21 teams. The plans have been met with united resistance from local residents due to serious concerns over the erosion of greenbelt and the impact it will have on the small rural village.
Speaking about the proposals, a W-RAGE spokesperson said:
“There has been overwhelming opposition to these proposals to build a training facility on greenbelt land behind Wrightington Country Club.
“Premier League Clubs such Manchester City and Manchester United however have developed their training facilities to regenerate brownfield or derelict sites. Wigan Athletic Football Club’s investment should be encouraged but not when they are choosing to build on farmland in a rural village behind a hotel owned by the club’s owner.
“Sadly, despite out attempts to maintain dialogue with the club, Wigan Athletic are now refusing to speak to residents opposed to their plans and we feel as if they just want to steamroller the community to get their way.”
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has been working with W-RAGE regarding these proposals. Rosie commented:
“Residents are clear they feel this is the wrong development in the wrong location for the wrong reasons.
“I am working with W-RAGE to ensure that their voices are heard and their concerns are not ignored by the Club or the Borough Council.
“It is the residents who will have to live with the consequences of a development of this size and of this nature sited in the Greenbelt. We can’t have developments which affect an entire community for the convenience of one individual and their interests.”
The 24 acre site plan shows the building of six football pitches, four training pitches, an 80meter pavilion, a large equipment store and a 120 space car parking facility. A principle requirement of most elite football academies is privacy and so it is surprising that Wigan Athletic have chosen this location which has 360° views to the whole site.
Final plans for the proposal are to be submitted to West Lancashire Borough Council shortly. The W-RAGE campaign continues to rally support from local residents and the wider community alike.
The proposed facility in the heart of the village will threaten Wrightington’s rural identity and impact negatively on the community. Whilst the objections are not directed at Wigan Athletic and its bid for improvement, W-RAGE feels suitable and more advantageous solutions are available to the club.
W-RAGE also feels the sites natural rolling topography adds to its unsuitability for the training facilities. The introduction of football pitches would require extensive remodelling, levelling and flattening of the natural landscape. The buildings, anticipated noise, congestion and loss of visual amenity is seen by W-RAGE as a threat to the local countryside. West Lancashire Borough Council deems Wrightington as “containing some of the finest country scenery in the whole of South Lancashire.” (Council website)
W-RAGE are actively campaigning to raise awareness of these proposals and their concerns about the impact on the small rural community.
In recent weeks there have been several public meetings; placards & garden stakes are visible thorough out the village; and along with MP Rosie Cooper a petition campaign has been started for residents to make their opposition known and their voices heard.
There are concerns about the validity and consistency of the information being issued about these proposals. Wigan Athletic claim their will be no floodlights on this site yet plans were originally presented to the public showing floodlights. In one instance they state that this site is exclusively for use by Wigan Athletic yet in the next breath it will be open for community use.