LIFELONG residents and councillors alike gathered together to oppose an "unforgivable" planning application to build 48 homes on green space.

Bolton at Home's application to build social housing on playing fields in Horwich, known locally as Pickup's Fields, has sparked a wave of criticism from residents and elected officials.

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, but the latest application has caused some councillors to say that Horwich is being unfairly squeezed when it comes to housing.

Residents and councillors in Horwich emphasised how important the field was to them as youngsters in a town council meeting on Thursday evening.

One resident said at the meeting: "The field is right outside my front window. I propose to buy my house at some point and I'm concerned that house prices are going to increase. It's one of the only green spaces left in Horwich. It's something to covet."

Cllr David Grant, who grew up on Singleton Avenue, said that the field means a lot to people in the area

He said: "I’m sure many here like me, grew up in and around these fields.

"We had the luxury and privilege to be surrounded with one of the amazing features that makes Horwich such a desirable place to live. Safe, secure open spaces where we were free to run play and enjoy our youth, it helped us to grow as it did for generations before us into the proud Horweathians we are today.

"What does it say about us if we having benefitted from these last few remaining green spaces that we simply allow this continued assault on the very soul of our Horwich community? To take away from future generations of children those same freedoms and benefits we ourselves were fortunate enough to enjoy. It is unforgivable."

Cllr Grant said that the small Singleton Avenue does not have the space to accommodate more residents in the area.

He added: "From the highways report, they seem to acknowledge the problems with the roads but then choose to simply imply they aren’t worthy of consideration.

"Singleton Avenue’s roads are half a meter narrower than regulation requires, but still the report states that the roads won’t be impacted by over 100 additional cars going into and from the estate.

"Anyone with even a remote knowledge of the area will know about the chest tightening squeeze as you drive through Singleton Avenue."

Cllr Steven Chadwick agreed, saying: "Horwich is carrying the borough in terms of housing, but where is the infrastructure?"

Not only did the councillors draw from the highways report, they also made a case for the environment.

Cllr Grant said: "By far the saddest joke before us today is this planning application. At a time when we hear about the ticking time bomb of environmental crisis facing us as a race and to our planet and not forgetting the destruction we are causing to our ecosystems.

"We have in their own environmental impact reports the following: "Even though measures will be taken to minimize impact on wildlife in the area with the use of swift bricks and shrubbery, there will still be a net loss of 25 per cent to the bio diversity in the area."

Borough councillor Richard Silvester promised to fight the plans too, presenting 35 objections to the town council.

The application was unanimously recommended for refusal and will now go to Bolton Council's planning committee.