FIELDS that have been earmarked for housing have hit the headlines in recent weeks.

The green space at Singleton Avenue, known locally as Pickup’s Fields, could be home to a new housing development – but the plans have been met with fierce opposition.

Residents who have led objections are adamant that the council-owned land should be retained for recreation.

They claim that the land was gifted to the people of Horwich for that very purpose.

Town councillor David Grant has been researching the history of the site which is made up of several parcels of land.

There are two main fields on Pickup’s which were originally separated into three deeds, according to Cllr Grant.

The northern part of the site, known as Green Lane playing fields, was bought in 1936 as part of the Old Lords estate and the field was leased to the schools, records show.

The second field, known as Pickup’s, is made up of two parcels of land.

This field comprises of Singleton Avenue and the estate’s recreation field where Bolton At Home wish to build.

The first parcel of land was purchased by Horwich Urban District Council from Associated Clay in 1955.

Horwich Urban District Council bought the land at the centre of the controversy in 1959 from the administrators of Associated Clay Industries, owned by the Pickup family.

The former authority bought the land with £500 from the King George V Memorial Fund, in addition to a £350 gift to the people of Horwich from Mr W E Ainscow of Beehive Mills.

The money was used to remove two ponds from the area in the centre of the proposed development site.

Minutes from the former authority’s records mention an interview which took place in December, 1954 relating to the fields. In them, Mr Ainscow discusses his gift towards the land for playing fields.

Following the Local Government Act of 1972, all Horwich Urban District Council assets transferred to Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council.

In 1974, the parcel of land was a single piece of land, according to Cllr Grant.

However, when Bolton registered the title in 2008 they separated the land into two parcels, his research revealed.

He said: “Bolton claims this land was always designated for homes but there is nothing in the full original covenants which states this. It goes without saying that the assumption this land was intended for development is clearly incorrect. Sport and recreation has always been its purpose. We cannot magic up green space. Once it is built on it has gone forever and residents’ health and wellbeing will be affected.”

Plans to build 48 houses at the site were refused by the planning committee last month but the decision could be overturned following an appeal.

Councillors will discuss whether the land should be sold to Bolton At Home later this month, but the final decision will be made by deputy leader Martyn Cox.