CONTROVERSIAL plans to build up to 300 new homes on a golf course will be decided upon this week.

Members of Bolton Council’s planning committee will decide on Thursday whether to wave through construction giant Peel’s proposals to develop Horwich Golf Course and neighbouring agricultural land.

The nine-hole course, off Victoria Road, and adjoining fields are classed as “open protected land” which should be safeguarded from “inappropriate development” under the council’s local plan.

An officer’s report acknowledges that, if approved, the scheme would result in a loss of the golf course and agricultural land, as well as having an overall negative impact on the “character and appearance of the area.”

However,the committee has been advised to approve it on the grounds the council cannot currently cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.

And while the plans indicated that some woodland, vegetation will be retained, while new public rights of way will be created.

But there is overwhelming opposition to the plans among residents and councillors.

Cllr Richard Silvester, who represents Horwich North East ward, said: “I am completely opposed to the plans to build on Horwich golf course. I have objected and I hope that all members of the planning committee will vote to refuse this application.

“ I pay tribute to residents in my ward who have fought an effective campaign against Peel’s proposals and I hope that councillors will agree with them and myself that Peel’s plans are completely unacceptable and must be turned down.”

And fellow Horwich North East councillor Kevin McKeon added: “There is no justification for overturning the council’s local plan, which makes it quite clear that the golf course and surrounding open fields have the status of protected open land.

“ It was never envisaged that houses would be built there. Developers constantly seek to undermine the local plan. councillors on the planning committee must be persuaded to hold the line and defend the policy they ratified in a full council meeting.”

There main access to the site will be off Victoria Road, while two others via Mayfair and Bond Close would lead to Stocks Park Drive.

Stocks Residents Association has been at the forefront of opposition to the plans.

Malcolm Harrison, chairman of the association, says the group feels the officer’s report “dismisses issues raised” and “takes the easy way out”. He added: “If councillors follow the planning officer’s recommendation for approval, it will be with blatant disregard for the rules, the council’s own policies and the views of their constituents.”

He added: “A beautiful rural location is obviously going to attract opportunistic interest from developers looking for high profits from luxury homes. Surely the councils’ own policies preventing inappropriate development on protected open land should outweigh the need for luxury housing? Developers should instead be required to develop the abundance of brownfield land in the borough.”

Stocks Residents Association also have serious concerns over the impact on traffic in Horwich and road safety.

Resident Liam McBride said: “Returning home to Horwich from work appointments in Bolton is a joke. It’s not unusual to queue from the Jolly Crofters, all the way to the crossroads on Lee Lane and Winter Hey Lane and I’m often late to collect my kids. Chorley New Road is even worse. Stocks Park Drive is already a rat run and it’s only a matter of time before there’s a serious accident.”