A CONTROVERSIAL development has been rejected over concerns it would reduce space for recreational land and could cause environmental issues.

The application to build 234 homes on the Hulton Lane Playing Fields, off Eldercot Road, has been the subject of a long-term debate as residents raised concerns about building on the site.

At a planning meeting held at Bolton Town Hall yesterday, local councillors Diane Parkinson, Toby Hewitt and Shafaqat Shaikh were joined by members of the Hulton Community Action Group Mike Manvielle and Alan Johnson to object to the plans.

They raised concerns over the loss of open space currently used for informal recreational activity such as walking and cycling, as well as pointing to environmental issues around the area, which used to house a landfill site.

Prior to the meeting, the action group outlined plans to create an urban community park on the playing fields for a “cleaner greener Bolton”, suggesting the council retain the 20ha site as a community asset.

The group received assurances from Bill Fulster, representing MCI Developments, the firm behind the proposal, who explained that gas monitoring, local ground testing and ground stabilisation had been carried out to mitigate against any problems caused by the areas former usage.

Despite this, Cllr Parkinson said: "As well as concerns about building on this former landfill site, those living on the periphery of the site are concerned about their health and wellbeing in the event of this ticking health timebomb being disturbed during and after remediation works have taken place."

Her fellow ward representative, Cllr Hewitt, raised concerns about parking brought on by the increase in homes.

He added: "The loss of this open recreational greenspace in use by the local community cannot and should not be understated."

Their concerns were echoed by Cllr Shaikh who also raised worries about the increasing population causing stress on local roads and infrastructure.

MCI had confirmed that at least half of the homes to be built on the site would be affordable and had made assurances that they would begin their development soon if the plans were approved.

The company also offered a deal to local rounders club Wally's to sell them the sports pitches they currently use on the site and an associated clubhouse for £1. The club accepted the offer together with a payment of £25,000 for refurbishments if the development goes ahead. As a result,Sport England removed an objection they had made to the plans.