CAMPAIGNERS have saved a controversial piece of land for the community after outrage over developments close by.

After months of protest and more than 400 letters of objection, council-owned land known as Pickup’s Field was sold off to Bolton at Home housing association in September of last year.

The housing association launched a planning application to build 48 houses at the site off Singleton Avenue — the planning permission was refused but the group has appealed this decision.

In an effort to stop further development on the site, councillors put in a bid to list the other parts of the field, those not earmarked for housing, as assets of community value.

The field’s new status means that if Bolton Council decides to sell those areas, community groups or the town council will have six months to put forward plans for the land before it is put up for grabs to the highest bidder.

Horwich town councillor Steven Chadwick launched the campaign to get the other sections of Pickup’s Field listed as community assets.

He said: “It’s a win for Horwich. It’s not a foolproof system but it’s better than not having any protection. At least now, there’s protection for the rest of the field. It’s a different ball game going forward."

Horwich and Blackrod First Independents leader, Cllr Marie Brady, supports the move, saying: “I’m glad and relieved that the bottom part of the of the field has been listed.

“It gives us some comfort in knowing that it won’t be been sold off at some point without us having the opportunity to resist it.

“It was a good idea to list the rest of the field, the problem is that the other land has been sold. But we have been given assurances that the other part of the field has never been in the application plan and we have added protection should anything change in the future.”

For these councillors, the effort to stop any more development comes from sweeping concerns for the green space across the town. Cllr Brady added: “It needs to be kept for recreation, that’s what we’ve got a real shortfall of now. We’ve got green space disappearing in Horwich, but it’s where people come to walk their dogs. We’re trying to get kids outside and playing and we’re not giving them anywhere to do it.”

Along with getting first say on the rest of the field in the future, the town will also receive a fifth of the money the council made from selling the spot, which neighbours playing fields.