MORE than 300 new homes could be built in Westhoughton if a trio of schemes are given the go-ahead by planners later this week.

Bolton Council’s planning committee will decide whether to give the green light to controversial proposals for 174 homes at Bowlands Hey, 58 at Hartley’s Farm and a further 35 at Perseverance Mill.

Bowlands Hey and Hartley’s Farm are both greenfield sites classed as ‘open protected land’.

But planning officers are recommending the committee approves both schemes as the council cannot currently “demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing land”.

A decision on Hartley’s Farm was deferred last month after councillors questioned whether the housing supply figures before them were still correct.

And Westhoughton town councillor Ryan Battersby says he is hopeful that the Bowlands Hey and Hartley’s Farm proposals will be thrown out on Thursday.

He said: “I hope that the planning committee looks at it fairly and objectively. Westhoughton has more than its fair share of building on greenbelt and open protected land in comparison to the rest of the borough.

“I understand that houses need to be built but it has to be in the right locations – on brownfield sites, rather than constantly destroying our greenbelt.”

Planning chiefs received 23 letters of objection to the Bowlands Hey scheme, which the report admits provides “an attractive tract of rural landscape that forms a green edge to Westhoughton”.

Opponents of the proposals say an important wildlife habitat will be lost, while local infrastructure, including road school places, doctors surgeries, will come under increased pressure.

And objectors to the Hartley’s Farm plans say there will be an “unacceptable increase in traffic using Wingates Lane” and raise concerns over road safety.

Cllr Christine Wild, who represents Westhoughton North and Chew Moor ,has reported a further car accident has occurred on Wingates Lane since last month.

But Planning chiefs say that both schemes will bring ‘significant’ benefits to the borough by boosting the supply of housing and “creating employment opportunities and support for local businesses and services, initially during the construction phase.”

The planning committee will also run the rule over Wiggett Construction Group’s less controversial application to build 35 homes at Perseverance Mill, a previously developed brownfield site.

However Cllr Battersby added that he was backing the redevelopment of Perseverance Mill.

He continued: “I’m in favour of Perseverance Mill, that’s the kind of location that should be developed – previously developed land – rather than constantly building on greenbelt. I’ve got no worries about Perseverance Mill, as long as the developers are courteous to the existing residents.”

And the Labour councillor said sites such as “considerable acreage” of the old Bernstein Factory, at Wingates Industrial Estate, should be used for development, rather than greenfield sites such as Bowlands Hey and Hartley’s Farm.

And Cllr Bernadette Eckersley-Fallon, Liberal Democrat representative for Wingates, agreed, telling the Bolton News that a ‘brownfield first’ policy was “a must”

She said: “You think about how many houses since February last year have been passed, but no developer has put any money into GP’s surgeries or dentists.

“Something needs to be done for the infrastructure, we can’t keep building these developments and putting no money into Westhoughton.

“It’s no wonder residents are feeling like a cash cow — we are just not getting anything back. “

And she added that the impact of development was already being felt on the town’s roads.

She said: “I’m a resident myself, as well as being a councillor, and it affects me day-in-day out. I feel everyone else’s frustration and the pressure of just getting to and from work.”