BOLTON Council secured a rare victory with the planning inspectorate yesterday.

The authority had turned down plans for 174 houses as part of the second phase of the Bowlands Hey development in Westhoughton.

The decision was refused and developer Bellway Homes ­— which was granted permission to build 129 homes in the first phase on appeal ­— challenged the council’s second decision.

Having lost several other planning appeals, the council and residents were not optimistic about their chances, especially after the first phase had been given permission.

But they were pleasantly surprised when planning inspector Helen Heward refused the appeal because the development would have a “major adverse” landscape and visual impact on the area and fails to protect “positive characteristics” of the local landscape.

It is a particularly important ruling because it comes at a time when Bolton has ruled out any housing in its submission to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

Without a housing policy such as the framework in place, developers have enjoyed a lot of success when applying to build on greenfield sites rather than developing brownfield locations.

The ruling shows that each development must be considered on its own merits, as well as the impact it would have in relation to other projects, and is not a green light for developers.