SOME years ago, Horwich Golf Club committee sold the golf course to Peel Holdings.

It was almost inevitable that Peel Holdings would try at some stage in the future to obtain planning permission to build houses.

I was confident an attempt like this couldn’t be made until 2026 because of the council’s allocations plan.

All councils are expected to have a spatial strategy, within which is an allocations plan that identifies sites where housing can be built.

In 2014, the council’s allocations plan was accepted by a Government inspector who declared it to be robust.

It provided sites for the homes Bolton was targeted to provide and was to be in place until 2026.

In the plan, Horwich Golf Club was identified as “protected green space,” not to be built on.

Since 2014, however, there have been significant changes to Government policy.

Government is determined to see more homes built. The council’s target has been increased by 20 per cent from 672 to 998. Unfortunately, the council’s target has not been met for a number of years.

The council itself does not build houses; it is reliant on developers to do this.

Sufficient development has not taken place. The reason for this is twofold; one, although developers have been given permission to build on brownfield sites, they haven’t always taken up their permission and two, not all the sites on the allocations plan have been subject to planning applications.

Developers prefer to try to build on greener sites. Hence, recently, we have seen applications to build on green sites in Blackrod and Westhoughton.

Although these applications have been refused by Bolton’s Planning Committee, the committee’s decisions have been overturned on appeal to a planning inspector, who has accepted the developers’ argument that they are simply helping Bolton to meet our target.

In spite of the obstacles we face, the Labour Party is committed to protecting green belt and protected open space.

If Peel Holdings does go ahead with an outline application to build on Horwich Golf Course, I and colleagues will do our utmost to oppose it.

We are confident of the support of the community.

Cllr Kevin McKeon