CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans to build 300 houses at a golf course will make their case to a government inspector today.

Stocks Residents' Association has a seat at the table throughout the public inquiry into plans at Horwich Golf Club this week.

The group, which has been given special "Rule 6 status" at the hearing, will be opposing the development alongside the council.

The local authority will be defending councillors' decision to refuse the plans last year which was appealed by developer Peel Investments in September.

Jonathan Easton, representing the residents' group, told inspector Jonathan Felgate in his opening statement yesterday, that members regularly walk around the "undeveloped, open and valuable land" at Victoria Road which offers a "welcome taste of countryside" close to an urban area.

He said: "Local people have not sat back and complained to each other in the privacy of their own homes or the less private realm of social media. They have organised and energised and taken steps to influence the future of the area in which they live.”

The Manchester-based barrister also described the current traffic situation in the area as "unacceptable", noting that Horwich has recently become the "focus for large-scale development".

However, Bolton Council will not be objecting to the proposal on highways grounds after reaching an agreement with the developer.

Peel has committed to contributing towards the cost of improving the Beehive Roundabout if the development goes ahead before planned roadworks are carried out.

Ian Ponter, representing the council, explained that updated modelling of the local highway network shows that the scheme could generate an "unacceptable impact".

But there are doubts whether work at the site would begin before 2023 when the golf club's lease finishes – although the tenancy could be terminated early in October 2020.

The club, which has run at a financial loss for the last decade, has been receiving annual payments from Peel since 2012 when it asked the developer to buy the site.

Peel's legal team, led by Giles Cannock QC, argued that the need for housing in the borough outweighs protections given to the open land. He said: “In the context of the very real need for more housing in Bolton now, it is clear that this proposal delivers sustainable development.”

Around 30 members of the public attended the first day of the inquiry, most of whom belong to the residents' association based at Stocks Park Drive.

Fleet Street resident Bernard Taylor, whose property backs onto the field, will also be speaking at the inquiry to express concerns of people in the area.

Bolton West MP Chris Green said it was "fantastic" to hear that so many Horwich residents attended the start of the appeal yesterday.

He added: "It's a real sign of the community’s determination to prevent more housebuilding in their area."

The public inquiry continues at the town hall from 10am every day this week until Friday.