A MAJOR housing development could still go ahead despite a government inspector backing the council's decision to refuse permission for the plans.

Plans for the the second phase of the Bowlands Hey development, which would see 174 more homes built in Westhoughton, have resurfaced following an unsuccessful appeal by Bellway Homes.

The developer has now resubmitted a planning application claiming that measures have been taken to resolve the inspector's concerns following a public inquiry in January.

Inspector Helen Heward said that the second phase of development would result in “major adverse” landscape and visual impact on the area and fails to protect “positive characteristics” of the local landscape.

She said: “The total harms to the character and appearance of the site and locality would be very substantial, permanent and long-lasting and run contrary to aims to protect the urban fringe.”

Planning and development consultancy Lichfields has made several changes to the plans since the appeal.

This includes introducing a buffer to "ensure the development will assimilate into the countryside".

The decision about the 174-home development, which was issued in May, followed a series of public inquiries by government-appointed inspectors who have overruled Bolton Council and allowed developments to go ahead.

This includes the first phase of 129 homes which was passed after being overturned by a planning inspector on appeal where the first residents have already moved in.

The council spent at least £60,000 fighting Bellway Homes at the two appeals over each phase of the Bowlands Hey development. Around £40,000 was spent on the first appeal.

The developer is exempt from planning application fees for this latest version of the plans because it has been resubmitted within a 12 month period.

Councillors on the planning committee will ultimately decide the outcome of the application after town hall bosses give their recommendations.