A PLANNING chief says he does not see any way a controversial luxury homes development can go ahead without “major demolition” work taking place.

Sparkle Developments’ bid to gain retrospective permission for five mansions built at Grundy Fold Farm, on the outskirts of Horwich was thrown out by Bolton Council’s planning committee last week.

The authority’s next step is to serve the firm with an enforcement notice to begin demolishing the homes - that were not built in accordance with planning permission - within six months.

But at the time of going to press it was understood that notice had not been issued as the council was undertaking “due diligence” before doing so.

Cllr Nick Peel, Bolton Council’s environment chief, voted to refuse the application when it went before planning committee on Thursday.

He told The Bolton News the developer’s amended plans —which involved changes to three of the homes — were only a “half-hearted” attempt to reach a solution with planners.

“It certainly wasn’t what the committee or officers wanted them to do,” he said.

“I can’t envisage that solution not including some major demolition. Orientation and size are very important when it comes to a small developing a small brownfield site in the green belt.”

But he warned opponents of the development that the enforcement process could take some time.

He said: “ I’m pretty sure, based on experience, they will appeal any enforcement notice we have. It’s common practice in these situations to endeavour to find a solution,”

And Cllr Peel, that the “intricate negotiations” which went into making the original, approved application had gone to waste.

“That’s the sad thing about it — all the time and effort that went into it on behalf of the applicant and the officers was just discarded.”

The original planning permission for five homes on the “footprint” of the now demolished original farmhouse and agricultural buildings still stands.

Sparkle Developments does have the option to notify it intends to revert to the scheme as originally approved.

But due to the homes being built in different positions, orientation and sizes to those given planning permission, this would mean knocking all five down and starting again.

Cllr Peel believes it is more likely that Sparkle Developments will come forward with a further plan.

He said: ““We have been here before with developments that have been outside of permission and unfortunately I need to forewarn residents that this is likely to take some time to resolve because of appeals and subsequent planning applications can keep the issue going for a period of time.

“They are entitled, as a response to an enforcement notice, to bring in amended plans to try to get as close as possible to the original – that’s their right.

“And a planning inspector on appeal will look favourably on attempts to resolve the matter without having to demolish everything.”

He added: “As long as that application is fundamentally different to the one already refused the planning authority is obliged to consider it.

“It can be seen by people as vexatious and wonder how long it can drag on for. But the council has to be seen to be acting reasonably and fairly.

“But I really can’t see Bolton planning officers accepting a solution that doesn’t involve some major demolition.”

Cllr Peel says that ultimately the council must now commence enforcement action.

He said: “At the end of the day it comes back to the fact they put up buildings without planning permission. As part of the enforcement process the application is the ability to put in a retrospective application.

“The’s what has been knocked back and that is what’s back with the planning department to enforce it.”

Ian Holden, director of Sparkle Developments, declined to comment when approached by The Bolton News.