THE future of one of Horwich’s biggest ever planning applications will be decided at a specially organised meeting next month.

A decision will be made whether to grant outline planning permission to build 1,700 homes on the site of the former Horwich Loco Works at a meeting of Bolton Council’s planning committee on August 21 in the town hall’s council chamber at 2pm.

The scale of the application means a special meeting has been arranged where the Loco Works will be the only order of business.

Developers, Horwich Vision, submitted the plans in January — which also include provision for 20 acres of employment land and 50 acres of open space.

It will include pedestrian and cycle routes.

Since then, residents have voiced concerns on a range of issues including the impact on the area’s roads, the strain put on Horwich’s existing school and healthcare facilities and the possible health risks because of asbestos on the former factory site.

Horwich’s council leader, Cllr Kevin McKeon previously said he supported the plans but asked for assurances on the removal of any contamination and called for transport mitigation in the area.

He said he now believes the length of time taken between the application submission and committee meeting date is down to “an awful lot of preparation work being undertaken”.

Cllr McKeon added: “This is the biggest application for Horwich that I can remember and the decision will have great implications for the future of the town.

“I want people to know the worries many have had with regard to issues such as contamination and highways have been considered as well as issues about infrastructure for things like schools and healthcare facilities.

“The development of this site will not be easy — but it is important for the overall housing needs of the borough.”

Horwich resident Michael Stevens said people in the town are expecting the plans to be passed as “a formality”.

He added: “We don’t feel like our local town council in Horwich has done enough for us in terms of addressing the issues — we feel they sold out.

“It is just too much in one area.”