RUMOURS about who owns fields which could be converted into houses are being investigated by neighbouring residents.

Bolton At Home plans to build 48 houses next to playing fields in Horwich, known locally as Pickup's Fields.

The grassy land behind Singleton Avenue is next to a protected recreation site but this specific spot was earmarked for housing by the council years ago.

Members of Horwich and Blackrod First Independents (HBFI) acknowledge that Bolton Council owns the land but question how it gained ownership.

They say that council records appear to have “gone missing” but they are looking into the matter.

A spokesman said: “It is a long-standing belief of residents this land was gifted to the people of Horwich for recreation and enjoyment and had restrictions of use.”

Bolton At Home said that the council-owned land is not subject to any restrictions that would prevent new homes being built on it according to the land registry.

A Bolton At Home spokesman said: “The playing fields at Green Lane are protected by the council for recreational use. However, this is not the land we are proposing to develop. Our proposed development is for the separate parcel of land behind the homes on Singleton Avenue. It isn’t green belt land.”

A council spokesman added: “We are not aware of any covenant restricting the use of the land and a national planning inspector supported future use of the land for housing back in 2014.”