BULLDOZERS have moved in to start demolition work on Bolton’s last greyhound track.
The stadium in Wigan Road, Westhoughton, is being knocked down to make way for 38 new houses.
Rubble from the remains of the buildings surrounding the circuit is currently littering the track, which is now overgrown and surrounded by piles of rubble.
Christine Crook, aged 67, has worked at the track since she was 14 and said the closure was “always on the cards” but that the demolition work was an “extremely sad sight”.
Councillors unanimously approved an application from developer Sparkle Developments to transform the track in October.
The plans caused huge controversy, with animal rights campaigners welcoming the decision while supporters of the sport reacted angrily to the closure.
Sparkle Developments’ owner Ian Holden said several things were still to be resolved before building work on the houses could begin.
“The latest is that the demolition is taking place at the moment, but it is unclear when the work will take place for the construction,” said Mr Holden.
“There is a lot of preparation work and planning that goes into projects such as these.”
Members of Bolton Council’s planning committee observed that it was sad to see the track close but that greyhound racing was dying as a sport.
The council received 17 letters of objection to the plans and boos rang out across the council chamber when approval was given.
More than 1,000 messages of support for the plan were received, although most of these came from animal rights protesters.
Mrs Crook, who first worked at the track while at school before later getting a job in its office said: “It is very sad obviously and the track has been a huge part of my life.
“I’ve met some lovely people here, many of them owners of dogs. A lot is said about greyhound racing, and it gets a bad name, but to my mind the dogs were usually very well looked after.
“I’ve got a couple of retired ones myself, which are 12 and 13-years old now, so at least I’ll be able to rest up a bit now and look after them.”
The site is listed as part of greenbelt but this was discounted as it had already been developed.
It will still contain plenty of green space, with planning regulations stating there is enough space for 82 homes rather than the 38 earmarked. Westhoughton Town Council originally recommended refusal to the plan on the grounds of over-development.