Smithills Coaching house could be partially demolished to make way for 29 new homes.

The Grade Two listed building, which is built on greenbelt land, has been sold by its current owners and plans have now been submitted to Bolton Council to turn it into houses.

The Coaching House, which has been run as a restaurant for 46 years, will cease operations on August 27, making its 30 staff members redundant.

Mystery had surrounded the future of the building, which is the former stables of Grade One listed Smithills Hall, but The Bolton News can now reveal its owner’s plans to build houses on the land.

The Emerson Group has submitted the plans on behalf of P.E. Jones Contracts, of Alderly Edge, Cheshire. The proposals are for two apartments and two houses with two bedrooms, 12 three-bedroomed houses and 12 houses with four or more bedrooms for the site, which measures 1.28 hectares. Under the plans, the existing Coaching House will be partially demolished and altered to create eight dwellings.

Another 21 homes, with parking and landscaping, will be created on the surrounding land.

The application states the “vast majority” of the development proposed will be on existing areas of the Coaching House.

Documents associated with the application state: “Despite marketing, there appears to be no viable future for the building as a restaurant use.

“In order to secure the long-term future of the building, this application seeks to obtain planning permission to convert the Coaching House to eight dwellings together with 21 dwellings within the grounds and land associated which are enabling development necessary to fund the renovation of the building.

“This would bring the visual appearance of the building more in line with the original structure (and footprint) and would secure its long term future in a renovated state.”

Ian Greenhalgh, who was chairman of Smithills Hall and Park Trust for several years before the hall was transferred to Bolton Council in 2006, said he was “disgusted” by the proposals.

Mr Greenhalgh, aged 65, of nearby Jesmond Road, added: “I am really annoyed and I think residents will be too. It is greenbelt land and I cannot see how they can build homes on it as that is a total breach of planning regulations.

“Building 29 homes on the land will just ruin the place. It is a wonderful asset to the town and it will be destroyed. I honestly cannot believe it.”

Smithills Coaching House had planning permission to build a hotel 13 years ago.

The plans included a large two-storey extension with 26 bedrooms, as well as renovation of the existing building to add an extra three bedrooms.

Brian Tetlow, chairman of the Civic Trust, said: “Obviously it’s a shock to think there are proposals for a listed building. To propose some demolition and include residential accommodation is quite a shock.

“It’s a historic location and I think the whole application is very inappropriate. “ Cllr Roger Hayes, leader of the Liberal Democrat group and ward councillor, said: “I am very sad to see the Coaching House close. It has been in an institution in Bolton and provided around 30 people with employment.

“Reading the developer’s plans, they are claiming the only way to fund the renovation of the Coaching House is through housing. Smithills is an extremely desirable area to live in. Obviously the builders think so otherwise they would not have submitted the plans. I suspect there will be some opposition because it’s part of the greenbelt land.

Cllr Anthony Radlett, Liberal Democrat for Smithills, added: “I cannot comment on the plans because I am on the planning committee. The Coaching House certainly is an institution and it has been a big part of the Bolton social scene for many years.

“As a Coaching House it obviously has a lot of history and a change of use will be sad but that’s not a predetermination.”

No one from P.E Jones Contracts was available to comment.