A DEVELOPER is launching a new bid for the right to build a housing estate at a former railway cutting.

Blackthorn homes is appealing against Bolton Council’s decision to turn down plans for 117 homes on the site of the former railway cutting off Long Lane in Darcy Lever.

The Wigan-based company has fought a long-running battle with residents over the site.

Local people say the old railway line is a valuable “wildlife corridor” that should be protected.

And they will speak against the plans when a planning inquiry starts next Wednesday.

Since having its original application rejected, Blackthorn has gone into receivership.

However, the receivers, Manchester-based Eddisons, are pressing ahead with the appeal as the land would be more valuable with planning permission.

In October, the council’s planning committee unanimously rejected Blackthorn’s plan, saying it was too big for the site.

The company appealed against that decision and lost.

Now it hopes the proposals will be supported by a government inspector at Wednesday’s appeal. The firm already had permission to build 50 houses on the east side of the old track, but was seeking permission to build more houses on the west side.

Residents campaigned against the first application, saying the line was a haven for wildlife.

Blackthorn also appealed against the decision, however, and a government inspector ruled in the development firm’s favour, saying the land was not a public right of way.

Cllr Mary Woodward, who represents Little Lever and Darcy Lever and is vice-chairman of the planning committee, will speak at the inquiry.

She said: “The residents have been fighting this for years and I have been on board since 2003.

“Each time it has been before the planning committee, it has been unanimously rejected.

“The last inspector emphasised the design and the height of the properties as a reason to reject the appeal.

“It is not in keeping with the rest of the area, which is mainly bungalows and terraced cottages.”

The appeal will be held at Bolton Town Hall next Wednesday and Thursday.

No-one from Eddisons was available to comment ahead of the appeal.