PLANS to build an extra 174 houses as part of the Bowlands Hey development will not go ahead after being thrown out by a government inspector.

An appeal by Bellway Homes was dismissed yesterday by a planning inspector, much to the surprise and delight of local councillors and residents.

The news follows a series of decisions by government-appointed inspectors who have overruled Bolton Council and allowed developments to go ahead.

This includes the first phase of 129 homes which was passed after being overturned by a planning inspector on appeal.

Inspector Helen Heward decided that the second phase of development at the Westhoughton would result in “major adverse” landscape and visual impact on the area and fails to protect “positive characteristics” of the local landscape.

She said: “The total harms to the character and appearance of the site and locality would be very substantial, permanent and long-lasting and run contrary to aims to protect the urban fringe.”

Council leader Linda Thomas said she is “overjoyed” about the decision and Westhoughton councillors from all parties also welcomed the news.

The decision follows a public inquiry which was held at the town hall in January after the planning committee's the refusal was appealed last summer.

Alan Riley, who lives in Green Meadows, told the planning inspector about his concerns.

He said: “I think local people need to get more involved in these decisions. I don’t think it will be the end of it and I think the reasons behind it won’t change much.”

Bellway Homes could come back with different plans but Mr Riley believes the decision means any new proposal would have to significantly differ.

Cllr Thomas, who lives in Westhoughton, welcomed the rare victory defending the council’s decision to drop half of its objections at the appeal.

She said: "There was some criticism that we didn’t go in on several fronts, but this speaks to the point that if you go on points that you are really strong on, then you can win.”

Local Labour councillor David Chadwick described the news as “absolutely fantastic” for the area which has been “under siege” by developers.

He said: “It’s absolutely fantastic news. It’s a boost to the residents of Collingwood Way who have had this disturbance for nearly two years. They will be absolutely delighted that it’s been rejected.”

His Lib Dem counterpart Cllr David Wilkinson, who attended the public inquiry, was equally delighted with the decision.

He said: “It’s brilliant news in the sense that we have had an inspector who actually listened. It’s a big surprise, to say the least, that an inspector has agreed with what is put forward.”

Conservative councillor Zoe Kirk-Robinson also expressed her delight saying that “common sense has prevailed”.

She said: “Bowlands Hey has been a disaster for its neighbours, who have been terrorised by developers’ vehicles causing a nuisance to them.

“The idea that this nightmare would have continued for years to come thanks to another development would have been too much for some to bear."

The first residents are expected to move in to "The Vistas" at Bowlands Hey this month.

She added: "The damage this development would have caused to our natural environment, our wildlife and the green belt is incalculable. Westhoughton cannot cope with more housing, especially not down these winding Estate roads.

"We need investment in infrastructure and public services, not more housing. I’m glad the Inspector has seen that and refused this appeal.”

UKIP leader Sean Honrby said: "I welcome the decision of the Inspectorate regarding the second phase of the Bowlands Hey development a decision which on this occasion has gone in our favour. Too often we lose appeals on developments like this due to us not having a current spatial framework in place and our previous UDP which was robust has expired.

"We fully support the current recommendations which the council have put in place that it should be brownfield sites first unless their are exceptional circumstances."