PLANS to build more than 100 houses on a greenfield site in Westhoughton have been rubber stamped.
The controversial scheme to create a development of 106 new homes on land on the former Roscoe’s Farm site in Bolton Road was approved at a meeting of the council’s planning committee — subject to the developer Jones Homes and council officers thrashing out the terms of an agreement to provide funding to the local area.
That agreement — known as a Section 106 — has now been finalised and the development will go ahead.
This news will not be welcomed in all quarters — with scores of local residents concerned about the potential impact the development could have on an already congested road network in Westhoughton as well as harm that could be caused to wildlife living in the area.
It was a narrow margin of 11 votes to nine during August’s planning committee meeting that approved the scheme — with the argument that the Roscoe’s land has been accepted into the council’s housing allocations plan winning the day.
As is often the case with Section 106 agreements, Jones Homes will be forking out far less than is suggested in the council’s policy for a scheme of this size.
Policy would suggest that a figure of more than £2.5 million should be contributed towards affordable housing — but Jones will pay out just under £700,000.
The contribution towards education in the local area has been negotiated down from a suggested £131,205 to £35,152 and instead of coughing up £104,834 for open space funding, Jones will spend just more than £28,000 on improvements to Central Park in Westhoughton.
The public art contribution has been negotiated down from just more than £85,000 to £22,792 and money for public health will total £6,361 oppose to the authority’s suggested figure of £23,744.
Local residents who are concerned about wildlife in the area will be interested to see a figure of £14, 135 being put towards enhancements to the nearby Hall Lee Brook local nature reserve, but perhaps disappointed to learn the council has suggested more than £50,000 should be contributed to such a cause.
Westhoughton North Cllr David Chadwick, who has always opposed the plans, explained that the Section 106 figures are arrived at using an independent assessor.
He said: “Negotiations take place with an independent person and figures that they believe are appropriate are chosen.
“Unfortunately it is dependent on the housing market and if that was a bit more buoyant, we would probably get bigger contributions.”
On the scheme, he added: “I have always maintained that we should not be building on greenfield sites.
“The problem we have is that there are lots of brownfield sites in Bolton that are owned by developers, but they choose to build on greenfields because it is less costly for them.
“The problem with Roscoe’s is that it was in the allocations plan, which was approved by a planning inspector.”
In its application, Jones Homes stated: “The development of this unused site into housing will greatly enhance the quality and character of the area, whilst helping to deliver the Council’s requirement for well-designed residential developments, with an emphasis on the provision of high quality family housing.”