BOLTON Council has come under fire for proposing to build houses on areas of recreational open space through its private sector partnership.

The council is consulting on various proposals concerning land and property across the borough in terms of potential future building projects.

The Bolton News has received a copy of confidential documents, updating elected members on the options being considered for portions of land across the town.

Within the bulletin, there are numerous areas which are the subject of applications by PSP Bolton LLP.

This is the council’s partnership with private investment firm PSP which it uses in a bid to maximise its return on land and property assets and generate new income for the authority.

As the document suggests, PSP Bolton LLP has successfully secured planning permission and sold a number of sites throughout the borough.

The council benefits from the sale of its land and also from a share in the “uplift in value” the land receives from planning permission being obtained.

Areas of land being applied for development through this process include 4.2 acres of land in Part Street in Westhoughton and 1.7 acres of land near Darwen Road in Bromley Cross — both of which are in the council’s approved allocations plan for housing.

But it is in Little Lever where concerns have been raised — with PSP Bolton LLP applying to take on two areas of land which include recreational open space.

The first is the playing field at Suffolk Close, which currently includes a children’s play area.

The council has allocated 1.06 acres of the field for housing — but the document suggests that the entire field could be included if it is “surplus to requirements.”

The second Little Lever site being considered for building on is at Victory Road.

The 1.2 acres of recreational open space is also in the council’s allocations plan and it is another site that the council’s PSP partnership is looking to develop.

Little Lever and Darcy Lever Cllr Paul Richardson said he is “dismayed” at plans to build on the two open spaces.

The UKIP chairman said: “It don’t know how anyone could propose building houses on these fine open spaces in Little Lever.

2I do understand that there is a need for housing land in the Borough but there are plenty of Brownfield sites which should be used first.

“The Suffolk Close playing field is where, following a resident taking upon himself the task of cutting the grass, Cllr Sean Hornby pushed the council to maintain this as well as other areas in the Village.

He added: “I have no doubt that residents will be up in arms about these proposals. It seems that once again, Little Lever is being used as the rubbing rag and the poor relation of the Borough as if we are of little consequence.”

A spokesman for Bolton Council said: “The council has a responsibility to identify sites for development and housing around the borough.

“The sites mentioned in this bulletin are all included in the Allocations Plan, which is a planning document which identifies land for potential development. The council carried out widespread public consultation on this plan with residents, before publishing it in 2014.

“These sites are all at a very early stage of development.

He added: “Any land that was developed, either by the council or by PSP would be subject to the full rigours of the planning process, including consultation with local residents.”