A HUGE industrial estate expansion on green land which promises up to 1,500 new jobs has finally been given approval.

Developers Harworth Group plc has secured planning approval for the development of up to 1.1m sq ft of logistics and manufacturing space at its site in Wingates, Westhoughton.

They say the development has the potential to create up to 1,500 new jobs.

But concerns have been expressed about the loss of green space in the area and the knock on effects for traffic congestion for the town’s already notoriously clogged roads.

The site at Wingates is close to Junction 6 of the M61 and to Harworth’s existing Logistics North site, the North West’s largest live commercial development.

The developers said employment will be boosted as the site is close to Bolton and Wigan and delivers on the objectives of the Bolton economic strategy to attract business and investment to the area.

Alongside 1.1m sq ft of commercial space, the proposed Wingates development will deliver upgrades to roads, drainage and utilities infrastructure, including a new access road.

It will also provide boundary landscaping and an ecological enhancement area, as part of what Harworth say is their commitment to promoting green spaces and protecting local biodiversity.

The scheme received planning consent from Bolton Council in January 2020 but the application was subsequently called-in by the secretary of state for communities and local government.

Planning approval by them was granted on Monday following an examination in public that concluded earlier this year.

Lynda Shillaw, chief executive of Harworth, said: “Securing planning for our Wingates development marks a significant milestone for us and will have a substantial positive effect on the local economy in terms of construction, permanent jobs and investment.

“It will allow Bolton businesses to expand, while at the same time improving highways infrastructure and protecting local biodiversity and green spaces.

“Harworth has a proven track record of delivering large scale employment space, for example at our nearby Logistics North site, and we look forward to replicating this success as we work with local stakeholders to bring these exciting plans forward.”

At the planning inquiry Harworth said the scheme would benefit the local economy by up to £126m per annum.

Westhoughton councillor and deputy leader fo the council, Conservative, Martyn Cox, said: “The approval of this scheme was inevitable, it’s planned as development land. Traffic congestion is a big issue locally.

“We’re hoping to put in place later in the year bid for the the second round of the levelling up fund with a for the whole of Bolton West so that we ease some of the congestion at Chequerbent, the A6 and Spirit of Sport roundabout, which need improving,

“This transport infrastructure bid if we are successful should alleviate some of the traffic issues but at the moment they’re bad.

“Everyone knows the issue with Park Road. It just can’t cope with the levels of traffic.”

Bolton Council’s Liberal Democrat group, which has two Westhoughton councillors. had opposed the encroachment on to green fields in the town.

Westhoughton South representative, Cllr David Wilkinson said if it was approved the green belt ‘means nothing’.

He said: “We’ve contributed a lot of land to the demand. Now we’re being asked to sacrifice the rest.”

Liberal Democrat leader on Bolton Council, Cllr Roger Hayes, said his group opposed the plans.

He said: “With regard to the benefits of this, it depends on whether you believe what the developer says.

“This development is truly huge and has a massive impact on the green belt.”