Wigan keen to get community on their side

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People flocked to a public exhibition to get a glimpse of Championship football club Wigan Athletic’s multi-million pound plans to develop a new training complex in Chorley.

The club bought Charnock Richard Golf Club last summer with the intention of turning it into the new facility for its first team and academy.

It is preparing a planning application for Chorley Council.

If it gets the go-ahead, the complex is expected to be operational by August 2016.

Plans for a similar scheme in the nearby Wrightington green belt – where there was a massive public protect campaign – were dropped.

The exhibition for the newly-announced plans was held by Wigan at Charnock Richard Football Club last Tuesday.

Residents and local councillors met Latics’ representatives who were there to answer any questions they had.

John Taylor, a Preston Road resident and chairman of Charnock Richard Parish Council, who attended the event, said from a personal perspective: “On balance I’ve got a positive feeling towards it.

“There could be issues locally about the moving of trees and disturbing wildlife habitat.

“On the other side of it, Charnock Richard Football Club is going to benefit from it.

“The community can make use of the facilities when they are not being used by Wigan Athletic.”

His wife Jacqueline, 66, said: “I think it looks quite well.

“I would have liked to have something more for the local community. We don’t have a lot in Charnock Richard.

“If they are going to do what they say they are going to do, it will be okay.”

Resident Peter Hargrave, 71, of Preston Road, said: “I’ve just had a look round.

“I think it’s going to be good for the village. It will make sure it all stays green and no development.

“There’s nothing negative at all.

“I’m surprised at how many pitches there are, but you don’t realise how much space there is until you see it on the plans.”

The scheme’s joint architect is John Hampton, associate director of AFL Architects, Manchester, who has also designed and delivered plans for Chelsea, Everton, Stoke and Wolves.

He said: “The idea is to explain the plans before we think of submitting them.

“We are here to take on board any local comments or issues.”

He added: “People are keen to make sure public footpaths are staying open, which they are and generally inquire about what the vehicle movements are.

“They were asking, is it

anything like Camleot – it’s nothing like that.

“What we are trying to do is promote an understanding.”

Brian Ashcroft, a director at Wigan Athletic, said: “We’ve had a lot of positive feedback on it up to now.

“Obviously they’re asking the right, sensible questions to protect what exists round here now.

“I’ve not heard of anything which is detrimental to it.

“We’ve provided questionnaires for them to take away and feed back their views.

“That’s what the local authority want and that’s what Wigan Athletic want as a football club.”

Mr Ashcroft said one issue brought up was the use of floodlighting.

He explained that technical advancements in floodlighting concentrated light on the area it was being used and made it less obtrusive for residdents. Floodlighting will be restricted to a 9.15pm usage at the latest.

He added that access was another issue.

“The access to the site is off the A49 and that will be retained. It’s not that we are coming through back roads here,” he said.

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