WARRINGTON Borough Council must apply ‘more pressure’ on developers to ensure adequate infrastructure is in place to cope with extra housing, admits the leader.

Cllr Russ Bowden (LAB – Birchwood) confirmed around 3,500 responses were submitted during the draft local plan consultation at the leader’s forum at Sandy Lane Community Centre in Stockton Heath on Wednesday.

He said they included ‘detailed challenges’ and insists there is ‘no point’ running a consultation if the authority does not listen to residents.

Chair of Stockton Heath Parish Council Laurence Murphy, a former borough councillor, pressed Cllr Bowden on the Western Link scheme, as well as infrastructure in the borough.

He asked whether the Town Hall boss was ‘confident’ over adequate infrastructure being put in place, alongside new properties.

He added: “What I like to see is building, yes, but green spaces among it, not just houses and houses and houses.”

Speaking in relation to the draft local plan, Cllr Bowden says the authority has ‘done everything we can’ to use as much space as possible in the town centre.

He also highlighted the importance of avoiding ‘ghettoisation’ where ‘big houses’ and social housing are completely separated from one another, adding it is key to have ‘mixed communities’.

“The clearest thing coming back from residents is around infrastructure and we have to step up and recognise that,” he said.

“Where we are going with the local plan at the moment, a big part of the development is Homes England land.

“We have been talking to Homes England about how they demonstrate the viability of a development and bringing forward infrastructure.

“What we want to see is Homes England and their partner developers bringing infrastructure alongside the housing – that will be schools, roads and a new community recycling centre for the south of Warrington, for example, and those community facilities.

“What we need to do is apply more pressure, I suppose, on the likes of Homes England and developers to get that established upfront.”

In April, the Government confirmed it will put £142.5 million towards the Western Link scheme, with the Labour-run council planning to contribute £70.2 million.

The highway would connect the A56 Chester Road with the A57 Sankey Way in Great Sankey.

Town Hall chiefs expect to be in a position to submit the final business case to the Department for Transport in autumn 2022, with construction planned to start in 2023 and the road to open to traffic in spring 2026.

Labour parish councillor Murphy asked Cllr Bowden: “Do you believe the Western Link road will help to take traffic out of Stockton Heath?

“If you build 9,000 houses down in Appleton, I don’t want to see 18,000 cars going up and down London Road every day.”

Cllr Bowden said: “The Western Link, fundamentally, is about air quality and traffic congestion and dealing with the problems in the town centre.

“I am confident it will happen, I am confident it will deal with the issues and it will provide that alternative.”

He also said, as people ‘don’t just work’ in Warrington town centre, he does not think ‘all that traffic is going to go through the town’.