THE latest plans to build hundreds of homes on a golf course have been thrown out – but planners fear the decision will not hold water with a government inspector.

The planning committee refused permission to build 276 houses at Horwich Golf Course because of the impact it would have on the landscape of the area.

Councillors said the development would be inappropriate for the protected site, which does not have full green belt status, and raised concerns about traffic.

This comes six months after a planning inspector decided that the housebuilder’s plans to build 300 houses on the site was unacceptable.

However, inspector John Felgate was said to have “literally redrawn the plans” by suggesting what kind of development would be acceptable, drawing a "notional" line over the site and pointing to the South Field as the problem..

Developer Peel L&P, who argued that its revised plans meets the inspector’s requirement, could now appeal the decision.

Executive director for strategic land and homebuilding Phil Wilson said the company will “reflect” before considering its next steps.

He said: “As recognised by the planning inspector during July’s public inquiry, our proposals for 276 homes on non-greenbelt land close to Horwich town centre would contribute positively to the Borough’s housing shortage, supporting families and those with affordable housing needs.

“We’ve worked hard to scale back our development and realign the site boundary to protect the area’s views following local concerns and the inspector’s advice so Bolton Council’s decision to refuse our revised plans is disappointing. We’ll now reflect on the main points raised by the planning committee before considering our next steps.”

All three Horwich North East councillors spoke against the plans at the town hall, as did Malcolm Harrison, chair of the Stocks Residents’ Association. He told the committee that there are 1,232 reasons to refuse the application, referring to the number of letters the council received objecting to the proposal.

Cllr Peter Wright accused developers of “eating up” the Horwich’s green spaces. He said: “Over recent years, Horwich has undergone a huge increase in housing developments. Whilst we recognise a need for good quality housing in the local area, there is a feeling that Horwich has taken a large proportion."

Cllr Ann Cunliffe said the land is “highly valued” and reminded the committee that the council has previously agreed to give Horwich Golf Course protected green belt status.

She said: “This area of land is highly valued. All of us proposed, all parties agreed, that it deserves green belt protection.

“I fully understand the concerns of residents in terms of the increase in traffic. They are already congested but I know that’s not a planning consideration.

“Building on Horwich Golf Course will result in the loss of well-loved open space.”

The planning committee voted unanimously to refuse permission for the application with the exception of the chairman, Cllr John Walsh, who abstained.