A DEVELOPER is a step closer to building the next phase of a controversial housing scheme after an archaeological survey found nothing of historical significance on the green land.

Bellway Homes built the first phase, for 129 homes,  at the Bowlands Hey development, after it was approved after and appeal by the Planning Inspectorate in 2017 after the council’s decision to block the plans.

Similarly, the second phase, for a further 167 houses, was approved by the Planning Inspectorate last year, months after Bolton councillors unanimously rejected the bid at a planning committee meeting.

A condition, imposed by Bolton Council after the appeal decision, was for Bellway to undertake an archaeological survey of the site prior to building.

That report has now been lodged with the council after 20 trenches were dug at the site to search for any evidence of historical significance.

The report, by Archaeological Research Services Ltd, states: “The programme of archaeological trenching has highlighted the paucity of features of archaeological significance present on site and overarchingly confirmed the results of the geophysical survey.

“The limited evidence for past human activity on the site was restricted to the installation of 19th‐20th century land drains, localised ground consolidation within the southern extremity of the site and the remnants of a 19th‐20th century trackway in close proximity to the current stone built bridge which spans Pennington Brook to the east of the site.”

Among items found during the dig were fragments of brown and black lead‐glazed red‐bodied earthenware representing three bowls typical of those used in a dairy and six fragments representing stoneware storage vessels, including a complete jar and a complete flagon.

The flagon was inscribed ‘1940 Scotts’s (Bolton) Ltd Botanical Brewers Daubhill, Bolton, anyone found illegally using or retaining this bottle will be prosecuted’.

That piece was manufactured for the Bolton‐based firm of herbal brewers who were in business from the mid‐1930s to the early 1950s.

Other pottery found included earthenware plate fragments, including an early 20th century bone china plate and an early‐mid 20th century teapot, missing its spout, with Price Bros Made In England’ underglazed on its base with its lid, along with fragments of another teapot lid, bowls, mugs and a teacup.

Last month, Bellway issued leaflets in the Westhouhgton area regarding phase three of the Bowlands Hey development, seeking feedback before submitting a formal planning application.

That third phase could potentially add 300 homes to the site, extending to the boundary with the railway line.

That news prompted Westhoughton South councillor, David Wilkinson to say that ‘Westhoughton has traditionally been a very nice and quiet area but now it’s just a constant roar of bulldozers’.

He added: “The town is losing so much of its distinctiveness with all of these developments here and in the surrounding area.

“We’ve always had such good green space which has been so well used during the pandemic but it feels like we are losing so much now.”