CONTROVERSIAL proposals to build up to 300 new homes at Horwich Golf Club and neighbouring fields have been unanimously thrown out by planners.

There were triumphant cheers from the public gallery from objectors — some of whom had been protesting outside the town hall beforehand.

Development giant Peel’s plans have been widely opposed in Horwich by residents and councillors since being submitted.

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

The decision went against the recommendation to approve the application, due to the council being unable to demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.

Demonstrators protest 200 home plan for horwich golf club

Horwich North East ward councillor Kevin McKeon urged the committee to reject Peel’s proposals.

Cllr McKeon told the committee it could reject the application on the basis that the council’s local plan was as important as the national planning framework. And he gave the precedent of the council blocking plans to build two houses on Deane Golf Club on the grounds it would “result in the loss of protected open land to the significant detriment of the character and appearance of the area”.

He said: “It seems to me that it would be logical, sensible and appropriate that this proposal should be refused for the same reasons. I have heard the argument that the developer is going to appeal and precedent indicates they will win so the committee has no alternative but to approve, not least because of the potential cost to the appeal hearing. But this is not the case, where inspector feels appeal is on legitimate reasons costs are not awarded against the council.”

Matthew Bennett, of Stocks Residents Association, which has fought hard against the application, also spoke to object.

He branded the the proposals an “entirely opportunistic application to extract outline planning permission”.

And he echoed Cllr McKeon’s comments regarding Peel’s ability to provide the new homes.

He said: “There’s no realistic prospect of this development being delivered within the next five years. It will not assist with the supply of housing. Peel is not in a position to build 300 houses as the golf course is subject to a lease which does not expire until 2023.”

Mr Bennett also said the development would have a “significantly adverse impact on traffic". He took issue with recalculated figures, saying the plan failed to take into account the new Chorley New Road Primary School and the medical centre due to be built in Victoria Road.

John Coxon, who spoke in support of the application on behalf of Peel, reminded the committee that the officer’s report recommended approval of the plans and a supplementary document addressed some of the objections.

And referring to the issue of Horwich Golf Club’s lease on the proposed site, he said: “Peel has obviously entered into a mutual agreement with the golf club, and have had discussions with trustees of the golf course. Peel would not have pursued this application if it wasn’t confident this arrangement could not be reached.”