A PUBLIC inquiry will be held to decide whether 300 houses can be built on Horwich Golf Course by developer Peel.

The Planning Inspectorate acting on behalf of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government will have the final say on the application by the land giant which was rejected by Bolton Council in June.

Peel appealed the council decision and requested a planning inquiry, which has been allowed. The inspectorate could have made the decision after a formal hearing with both parties present or after written representations by both parties.

Residents campaigning against the application to build on the golf course and an adjacent field has been fundraising to commission a specialist planning barrister to challenge Peel in the hope that the original decision will be upheld.

Malcolm Harrison, chair of Stocks Residents Association explained: “If we lose this fight, then no part of Horwich will be safe from developers. As well as losing valued green space, we expect at least an additional 600 cars on our roads during rush hour.

“It’s hard to imagine how Horwich will function with that many cars on Chorley Old Road, Stocks Park Drive, Victoria Road and Chorley New Road, not to mention the knock-on effect on the rest of Horwich.”

Mr Harrison said that the appeal process could be complete by Christmas and is encouraging locals to join Stock RA’s mailing list to stay informed of developments and help send objections. The proposal was unanimously opposed by Horwich Town Council in January before Bolton Council rejected it in June.

Horwich Town councillor and Horwich First member Steven Chadwick said that it was “welcoming” to see the borough council back the town council’s recommendation by rejecting the application. He said: “Horwich has had more than our fair share of house building already within the borough, with little to no infrastructure improvements over the years, our town’s roads simply cannot cope with even more over development.”

He praised Stocks RA for doing a “fantastic” job campaigning to save the green space and urged locals to support the group.

He added: “It will also be imperative that the town gets behind them and send representations and objections to the Planning Inspector. I would hope they would then respect the clear rejection locally by both councils and many residents.”

Stocks RA is holding a fundraising car wash, with coffee and cake on Saturday 13 October between 10am to 4pm on Mayfair, Horwich. Maria Hilton of Stocks RA said: “We have a massive fight on our hands. We may not have a fat cheque book like Peel, but we do have a big community spirit and a huge passion to keep Horwich green and moving.” Nearly 20,000 people live in Horwich. If everyone encouraged a few friends and family to sign up and send in an objection, the opinion of Horwich could not be ignored. If we sit back now, this green land will be gone forever.”

A spokesman for Peel said the company did not wish to comment. In a letter to the Planning Inspectorate, Emery Planning, representing Peel, requested a three-day inquiry and described the issues as “complex”.

The town planning consultancy also noted that there was a “substantial local interest” in the application as 253 letters of objection were received.

Interested parties have until October 23 to make a comment to the Planning Inspectorate.

Members of the public can join the Stocks RA mailing list by emailing stocksrahorwich@gmail.com.