PEOPLE who live near a field which could be turned into a housing development fear the plans will be “pushed” through during the coronavirus lockdown.

Proposals for 78 new homes in a three-hectare site off Lever Park Avenue, known locally as the Llama Field, were revealed earlier this month.

Horwich councillors who represent the area alongside the River Douglas have already raised concerns about the use of the rural area and the infrastructure in place to support the new homes.

The planning application was due to be discussed by councillors on the planning committee – but public meetings have been suspended by Bolton Council until the coronavirus outbreak is contained.

Now, Vicki Robinson-Birbeck, who lives nearby in Fearnhead Avenue, worries that the plans will be “pushed” through while residents who oppose the development are on lockdown.

She said: “Our argument is how can you even ask for comments now when the residents can’t really come together to talk about it. We can’t go to meetings because we are all on lockdown. It’s vile.”

Bolton Council has postponed all controversial decisions while the coronavirus crisis is ongoing, including scrapping free parking in the town centre and axing the meals on wheels service.

But details on how licensing or planning matters will be decided in the absence of committee meetings have not yet been revealed by the local authority.

Cllr Kevin McKeon, who has objected to the plans, reassured residents that the plans will not be “pushed” through behind closed doors during this period.

He said: “There will be nothing done underhand. A decision like this won’t be taken without some democratic accountability. Residents already have an opportunity to write in to the council with objections.

“It’s a very difficult situation we’re in. It’s unprecedented. We’ve never come across these circumstances before and obviously normal processes will be difficult to follow. But I’m absolutely sure there will be democratic accountability and residents and councillors will be able to object.”

Cllr Marie Brady, who also opposes the plans, explained that the field is known locally as the Llama Field because llamas have been kept on there in the past.

Within the proposed development, 27 of the dwellings, which would be a variety of houses, terraces and apartments, would be affordable homes.

The plans also include a new junction, access road and footpaths from Lever Park Avenue.

The developer Lichfields’ senior planner Rebecca Hilton said: “These proposals would result in the provision of much-needed affordable homes, financial contributions towards local education facilities and the development of public open-space creating an attractive environment for residents to enjoy.”