AS doubts loom over the Hulton Park estate, nearby residents are forming a neighbourhood plan to forge the future of a village which prides itself on its countryside character.

At the third Over Hulton neighbourhood forum public consultation on Tuesday evening, an unexpected issue which emerged was the lack of public spaces for recreation, despite the abundance of green space in the village.

Protection of the green belt is a long-held belief of many residents, but with only one recreational ground within the Over Hulton perimeter, some are asking where children can play — especially if they live far from the only local site at the back Fairlyn Close. The Over Hulton forum has enlisted the help of Troy Planning and Design to collate research of the local population and write the plan. Staff were on hand to present their findings at the consultation.

Managing director Troy Hayes said: “There’s lack of open space in Over Hulton, where does a group of children go to kick a ball around or play a football match? There’s only one open space we’ve identified.”

At the public consultation, councillors and residents mourned the loss of space for young people in the area which came after the closure of Hulton Park.

They remembered the once active presence of the Scouts in Over Hulton.

Thousands of young people in the Scouts, Cubs, Beavers and Guides benefited from a campsite in Hulton Park for more than 50 years.

The site became a popular spot for the groups’ annual retreats while Sir Geoffrey Hulton, who was the Scout Commissioner for England, leased to the Scouts for a peppercorn rent.

After his death, the Scout leader could not afford the increased rent and even attempted to buy the site, but failed.

Residents Norman and Josephine Theaker, who moved to Over Hulton in 1964, are both leaders of local Scouts and Cubs groups.

Mrs Theaker said: “There used to be a terrific Scouting community in the park. It would be nice if we could start another Scout group again locally and some green land for the children.”

Mr Theaker agreed, saying: “I’d like to see a park open to the public.”

Cllr Toby Hewitt said: “There’s this intergenerational memory of lots of people who were involved with that. It was like playing in someone’s big back garden.”

The area’s grassroots neighbourhood plan was created by the Over Hulton Neighbourhood Forum.

Neighbourhood plans were first introduced in 2011 by the Localism Act, intending to give people a greater say over the areas they live in.

Neighbourhood forums can access government grants of up to £17,000 to draw up a draft plan to be approved by both Bolton Council and the residents.

Much of the grants are often spent by neighbourhood forums on professional help for the plan. The concerns and hopes put forward by the public in Over Hulton are now starting to be finalised into a a draft plan.