NEW homes are set to be built on a farm three years after initial plans for a residential development on the protected rural land were first revealed.

Planning permission has been granted for 50 dwellings, a mixture of houses and flats, at Hartley’s Farm in Wingates Lane.

This comes after a government-appointed inspector ruled that up to 58 residential units could be built on the protected green belt site, overturning a decision by Bolton Council.

The planning committee turned down the developer’s request for permission in principle to build houses at the vacant Westhoughton farm in 2017.

But the decision was appealed by developer Hollins Wingates and overturned by a planning inspector the following year.

Deputy leader Martyn Cox, who represents the Westhougton North and Chew Moor ward in which the land is located, described the decision as a “very disappointing result” for local residents who “campaigned hard” to reject the development.

Cllr Bernadette Eckerlsey-Fallon said that residents in Fawcett Fold, whose homes have been flooded twice in recent months, are particularly concerned about drainage from the development which neighbours their properties.

She said: “It’s devastating for the residents. The residents are concerned about the flooding issues. It’s not been sorted out.

“And the second issue is traffic. That road cannot take the traffic from that development. Residents are going to be devastated.

“I don’t think residents will be surprised but I think they will be very disappointed with the decision going through.”

The final details of the proposed housing development were revealed by Hollins Wingates last summer.

The plans feature a mixture of two to five bedroom houses as well as an apartment block with six two-bedroom flats.

Planning inspector Bryn Bowker acknowledged local fears about the development could have an impact on the appearance of the surrounding area

He also considered concerns about traffic and potential flooding due to a lack of sewer capacity.

But, in reaching his conclusion, he said the proposal would make a “sizeable contribution” towards housing supply which Bolton Council could not demonstrate it would deliver sufficiently.

Planning officers at Bolton Town Hall, who approved the reserved matters application on March 25, said the development is considered to be of “good urban design”, with “adequate”landscaping and  private amenity space.

A report by officers also said that the proposed highway layout has been designed to meet “adoptable standards” and that “adequate” car parking would be provided.

It said: “Overall, the development is considered to comply with policy as detailed in the above report, the proposal is thereby recommended for approval.”

Westhoughton Town Council expressed concerns about the noise and pollution from the neighbouring M61 motorway, the narrow access from Wingates Lane and the flooding of nearby houses on Fawcetts Fold.

The town council asked for assurances that all drainage issues will be addressed during building and afterwards, and that the root system of the trees on the nearby Bolton Council owned woodland are protected during construction.

Officers said sustainable urban drainage in line with the requirements of Core Strategy policy CG2 were dealt with through the outline planning application which was granted consent following the developer’s successful appeal.

They added: “The proposed layout will result in the loss of some trees on the site. These were largely agreed in the consideration of the outline application and an Arboricultural Method Statement has been submitted with the reserved matters proposal.

“Tree officers consider the tree management proposals and tree protection to be acceptable and of good arboricultural practice. The proposal is considered to comply with policy in this respect.”