CLAIMS that building on brownfield land cannot solve Bolton’s housing crisis have been labelled ‘nonsense’ by town hall bosses.

A developer-led report published yesterday said that councils will need to release more protected land in order to combat housing shortfalls, rather than relying on previously developed sites.

A pilot conducted by The Gracechurch Group estimates that brownfield land has the potential for 200,000 homes across 73 local authorities studied — but there is a ten-year demand of 550,000.

However, Bolton Council leader Cliff Morris says that developers must take responsibility.

The Bolton News revealed earlier this month that there are around 9,000 undeveloped sites with planning permissions in Bolton.

Cllr Morris said: “This is nonsense. It’s a statement taken out of context and unfairly shifts the focus from those who must bare the weight of responsibility in all this: the developers.

“We have followed through on we set out in our robust allocation plan for Bolton. We absolutely do have enough land and permissions, with the potential for 7,840 homes, but the fact remains that developers are not following this through.

“In addition, we have 153 sites with the potential for 8,600 homes that have been identified but currently do not have permission.

“The government moved the goalposts when they shifted the focus from allocations to annual builds, and in doing so they have skewed the facts in favour of the developers.

“In Bolton, while the government plays catch up we are moving forward with kickstarting development on strategic brownfield sites.”

Neil Lawson-May, of The Gracechurch Group, said: “Brownfield is unevenly spread across the country and most brownfield is not in areas where there is high housing need. In the pilot, only two regions have sufficient brownfield capacity to accommodate their five-year housing requirement once planning attrition has been factored in. Brownfield land can make a significant impact on the housing crisis, but it cannot solve it.

“Hard evidence about brownfield site availability through the registers can help politicians and planning authorities explain to communities more effectively why greenfield development is necessary.”