CONTROVERSIAL plans to build 140 homes on the former Bolton College site in Horwich have been approved.

The approval, for outline planning permission for the development in Victoria Road is subject to an agreement between developers Bowsall Ltd and St Mary’s RC Primary School, about sharing some of the site.

The school believes the development could harm its potential future expansion needs.

After instruction from the planning committee at a meeting last month, school bosses have been negotiating with Bowsall to see if the firm could hand over land rather than money that developers are usually required to provide for primary education.

An area of land has now been offered to the school, but several councillors said yesterday that it was not appropriate, with Cllr Linda Thomas describing the land as “neither use nor ornament”.

The plans will also be sent to Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Local Government, because of an argument about the former college’s football pitch.

Developers Bowsall Ltd claim the pitch has not been used in the past five years — but objectors submitted a lease from Horwich RMI junior football club showing the pitch has been used during that period.

Councillors voted to approve the plans, subject to delegation to the Bolton Council’s director of development and regeneration, Keith Davies, who will iron out the final agreement between the developers and St Mary’s.

The council will await a response from Mr Pickles regarding the issue of the football pitch.