PROPERTY giants Peel Investments (North) Ltd say the community will be able to have their say on any housing plans drawn for Horwich Golf Club - as anger continues to grow at the decision to allow the 'open space' to be earmarked for development.

Peel L&P and its housing division Northstone won its appeal against Bolton Council's decision to reject outline housing bids for the land ­— one for 276 homes on the site and a smaller scheme which would see 150 houses built on the golf course off Victoria Road.

Peel say around a third of homes at each scheme are classed as affordable housing for shared ownership or affordable rent.

The Planning Inspectorate said in a ruling neither "of the proposed developments would have a significantly harmful effect on the character and appearance of the area, including in terms of Horwich’s landscape setting."

An inspector added that "either of the proposed developments would bring a range of benefits, most notably the delivery of a considerable amount of market and affordable housing."

Jonathan England, Development and Projects Director at Peel L&P and Northstone, said: “The decision reaffirms Bolton’s chronic shortage of housing and without a plan of where this will be delivered across the borough over the next five years, our proposals go a long way in helping to provide homes for people with a range of needs.

“We’re pleased the inspector has recognised this along with the many benefits our developments will have on the local economy through new jobs and investment as well as being respectful to the environment and providing improvements to education, highways and green space for local people.

“We’ll continue to review the appeal decision before taking our next steps and There will be another opportunity for the community to have their say on the detailed designs as and when we decide to take any of these plans forward through a reserved matter application.”

Peel L&P acquired Horwich Golf Club in 2012 and says it has since helped to keep the struggling business running for the past eight years. The golf course is due to close in 2023 when the funding support ends.

Cllr Richard Silvester said: "As a ward councillor, I have fought against all three of the planning applications which Peel put forward, spoke against them at both Horwich and Bolton Council’s and they were all refused and spoke against development at the recent public inquiry alongside Cllr McKeon.

"To say that I am shell shocked at the approval decision made by the government planning inspector is an understatement. My heart goes out to all my residents and the Stocks Residents Association who I have stood with steadfastly in the campaign against building on Horwich Golf Course because the consequences for them and the future disruption to the area is not good.

"We will lose yet another important area of green open space in Horwich now purely down to Government housing targets and numbers. It is certainly a sad day for Horwich'.

Fellow ward councillor Cllr Kevin McKeon said: "Yesterday the Horwich community received the devastating news that Peel Holdings have won their appeal against the decision of the Council to refuse their application to build on Horwich Golf Course.

"Along with Cllr Silvester I have worked with local residents in the five year fight against development. Both of us spoke at the public inquiry. I share the disappointment of local residents, who have fought so hard to protect this vital green space. I want to pay tribute to the Stocks Residents Association who mounted an outstanding campaign.

"They have given us an example of the citizen engagement. They couldn’t have done more. Peel have won two appeals one to build 276 houses, the other to build 150 houses. They now have to choose which option to take.

"The 150 would be the lesser of two evils."