THE town hall could cut its support for the controversial Hulton Park development at an upcoming government hearing.

The Conservatives want the council to spend as little as possible when it defends plans to build 1,036 homes and a Ryder Cup golf course.

Council leader David Greenhalgh is expected to put forward a motion to limit resources for the upcoming public inquiry to the statutory minimum at a meeting next week.

He said: “The overwhelming majority of the Conservative group were against the proposal, which included more than 1,000 houses on Hulton Park, and we do not wish to commit a sum of money which could be in the region of a quarter of a million pounds of Bolton Council taxpayers’ money on barristers’ fees defending the decision to build.

“It would be hypocritical and, in my view, a bad use of public money that could be put to much better use.”

The proposed development, which was narrowly approved by Bolton’s planning committee, was called in by the government last summer.

A public inquiry into the plans will take place on October 1 before a final decision is made by the Secretary of State.

John Hesketh, chair of campaigner group Hulton Estate Area Residents Together (HEART), was pleased to hear about Cllr Greenhalgh’s motion.

He said: “It’s showing a turn of tide of the council backing off from the scheme to devastate Hulton Park. I would think that this is very helpful. In effect they are withdrawing their support.”

However, Labour leader Linda Thomas, who has long opposed the development, believes the Tories are taking the wrong approach.

She believes a stronger argument would be to throw support behind the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework which, in its current form, does not earmark Hulton Park for housing.

The latest draft of the region’s proposed masterplan for homes, jobs and the environment does not propose building any houses in Bolton’s green belt.

This means that all 13,940 homes which the borough needs by 2037 could be built without using any protected beauty spots like Hulton Park.

Lib Dem leader Roger Hayes, who hopes the development will not be allowed to go ahead, also questioned whether the Conservative motion would help the case.

Cllr Thomas suggested that the proposal is unnecessary and may be politically motivated.

She said: “What David needs to understand is that he’s in power. It’s his executive. He doesn’t need to come to the rest of us to give him permission to do it. Has he forgotten that he was voted as leader and he has picked a cabinet who has the responsibility of decision making? I hope he’s not playing games, but I would say to him, he already has the power and the opportunity to do that.”

She also raised concerns about undermining the decision made by the planning committee but indicated that she would vote in favour of the motion.

Responding, Cllr Greenhalgh said: “In a view of openness, we are seeking the opinions of the rest of the council. It’s something where a decision has been made and we are in effect challenging that decision."