COUNCILLORS have made a last-ditch attempt to prevent a set of playing fields being turned into housing.

Bolton Council’s planning committee threw out plans to build 48 homes at Pickup’s Fields in Horwich last month on the grounds that the land was, until recently, used for recreation.

However, an appeal is expected to be lodged, which could see the decision overturned.

At a meeting of Horwich Town Council on Monday evening, councillors voted to nominate the site as an asset of community value.

If approved by Bolton Council, it would give community groups priority to buy the land if it goes on the market. The town council, or another eligible community group would then have six weeks to express an interest in buying it.

This would trigger a six-month freeze period during which the asset cannot be sold, giving time to develop a proposal and raise the capital required to bid for the asset.

Cllr Steven Chadwick described the move as “the last throw of the dice” to block the plans.

He added: “It is cards on the table time. If the application is in then that means an extra hurdle to put more pressure on.

“If we say we want it as an asset of community value, there would be uproar if they get rid.”

The council’s head of development management Paul Whittingham said the reasons for the initial refusal would not carry any weight at an appeal because the land had already been earmarked for housing.

Next week, councillors will discuss whether the green space should be sold to Bolton At Home at all after a scrutiny committee recommending the land was not sold for housing. The final decision will be made by deputy leader Martyn Cox.

The plans for the grassy land behind Singleton Avenue have been met with fierce opposition, with more than 450 residents objecting.

Cllr Chadwick added: “As representatives of Horwich, our job is to do everything we can to represent the people of Horwich.

“456 objections says a lot to me. We as a town council need to do everything we can to put pressure on them.”

Seconding the motion, Cllr Stephen Rock said the application would “send a message” to Bolton Council.

He added: “We need to keep the pressure up for future generations as well as this one.”