CONTROVERSIAL plans to build housing on Horwich Golf Club have been given the green light on appeal.

The decision has been described as a ‘kick in teeth’ by those who campaigned against homes being built on the ‘open fields’.

Peel Investments (North) Ltd and Northstone, their housing division, appealed decisions by Bolton’s planning bosses to reject the outline housing bids ­— and today the Planning Inspectorate ruled in favour of the developers.

Horwich Golf Club housing plans would cause ‘significant harm’ to the area, inquiry hears

Peel and Northstone appealed two applications, both refused by Bolton’s planning committee, one for 276 homes on the site and a smaller scheme which would see 150 houses built on the golf course off Victoria Road. The decision has been greeted by anger.

Horwich councillor Marie Brady said: “I am absolutely devastated by the decision of the Planning Inspectorate to allow both appeals by Peel. This will see a golf course, on open green fields, on the fringe of green belt, covered with houses.

“The housing need assessment for Horwich, the evidence of wildlife corridors, the effect of this development on the already creaking infrastructure of Horwich, the affect on air quality by hundreds more cars queueing outside two primary schools and one secondary school, all disregarded by the Planning Inspector.

“The decision can only be described as tragic and a kick in the teeth to the Stocks Residents Association and all the residents of Horwich who supported and funded the SRA to fight Peel.”

She added: “There can be no wriggling out of S106 payments (planning agreement payments) or providing affordable housing, nor must this or any development, go any further without a clear plan for the provision of green space within the town of Horwich.”

The five-day planning inquiry heard arguments from Bolton Council and the residents association against the plans. The council argued ‘serious harm’ would be caused by building on the protected land but Peel and Northstone said the council ‘acted unreasonably’ in refusing permission for both schemes.

The Bolton News:

(The site in question)

In a ruling a planning inspector conceded both schemes “would result in the loss of predominately greenspace to mainly housing development outside the settlement boundary of Horwich” and added: “both proposed developments would cause some harm to the character and appearance of these area, including in terms of Horwich’s landscape setting”.

But he added “the combined adverse impacts would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.”

The inspectorate concluded: “In conclusion, both appeal proposals would be at odds with the spatial strategy of the development plan in terms of the location of new housing development of this type and cause at least some harm to the character and appearance of the area.

“In both cases, however, the combined adverse impacts would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in the Framework taken as a whole. Consequently, the appeal schemes would both represent sustainable development in the terms of the Framework, which is a material consideration that, in the particular circumstances of each case, outweighs the conflict with the development plan as a whole.”