A PARALYMPIC athlete joined protests against a new housing development at a Horwich field.

World record-holding Paralympian Tony Griffin has come out against the decision to sell the land to a housing association wanting to build 48 houses at Pickup's Fields.

Mr Griffin, who received a British Empire Medal this year, urged the local authority to keep the land to be used for sport.

He said: "I have actually played football myself on this field going back to the late 1970s and early 80s.

"To look at it now is quite upsetting. Keeping playing fields for use by the community and getting young people using them for sport is very important.

"I would appeal to the person at the council making the decision regarding this land, not to sell it.

"If it is saved then who knows, perhaps a young person from Horwich using this field in the future will go on to represent our country at the highest levels in sport.

"That’s the importance of keeping playing fields so that these opportunities are there for everyone. When they have gone then that’s something taken away forever."

The planning committee also refused to grant permission for the housing development, although Bolton at Home could appeal the decision.

Councillors voted against selling the land behind Singleton Avenue to the housing association despite it being earmarked for housing by Labour in 2014.

Deputy leader Martyn Cox will have the final say on whether to sell the land for around £500,000 later this month.

Local Labour councillor Richard Silvester, who opposed including the site in the housing allocation plan five years ago, is "optimistic" that Pickup’s field will be saved from development.

He said: "It would be unprecedented for the Conservative deputy leader to go against the decisions already made by the council. If he did that then it would show that he is not listening, it would show utter contempt for everyone involved in this campaign, for the council itself and towards Horwich."

Cllr Cox will make a final decision at a private meeting on September 17.