A huge housing development for the former Moor Lane bus station in Bolton has been approved, with work set to start next April.

Plans for 162 flats and 44 three-storey, three-bed houses along with retail space and two small parks were narrowly passed by Bolton’s planning committee at a meeting on Thursday, November 11.

Several councillors expressed misgivings about the design of the plans and an amendment to defer the decision to a future date so that changes could be made was tied at nine votes each.

Chair of the committee, Coun John Walsh used his casting vote to defeat the amendment and the plans were than passed when some councillors who had expressed doubts, abstained from the vote to approve.

Two of the apartment blocks on Moor Lane are six storeys in height.

The two blocks within the conservation area, which will also have commercial units at ground level, are set at four storeys to compliment the nearby roof levels of Le Mans Crescent and the job centre.

The land to the west will have 44 three-storey, three-bed houses in two blocks in a rectangular arrangement around community courtyards.

Two small parks, with suggested names of Cheadle Park and Octagon Park will are part of the plans for the area.

Phil Hepworth,  director of AW architects spoke in support of the scheme on behalf of applicants Step Places and Bolton at Home.

He said: “This will be an exciting, vibrant mixed use development in the heart of Bolton town centre. which provides high quality living across a range of tenures.

“There will also be the addition of significant public realm space.

“It will also create new connections across Blackhorse Street, Market Street to Le Mans Crescent and Cheadle Square.

“We have spend time getting under the skin of the council’s aspirations for the town centre.

Coun Bob Allen, said: “If we really wanted to enhance Bolton town centre then this site would be a fully landscaped park.

” I accept that is not likely to happen as we can’t afford it.

“But what we’ve got here is another high density, low cost flats and housing scheme.

“It misses out on some golden opportunities to enhance the area such as building good usable open space, closing Blackhorse Street and building an architectural legacy.

“We don’t just need low cost housing.

“The scale and the massing is very severe, blocks one and two obliterate the view of Le Mans Crescent from Moor Lane.

Councillor Allen likened the ‘featureless’ architecture of one the apartment blocks to ‘H-wing at Forest Bank prison in Agecroft’.

He said: “The similarities in the façades are incredible.”

Supporting the plans, Coun Andy Morgan, said: “Architecture is subjective to the individual.

“I like it, t’s a vital piece of the jigsaw to start the regeneration of our town.

“Town centres are changing and to support them we need people living in them.

“The market traders have submitted a strong statement in support.

“The architecture will complement Le Mans Square with excellent outdoor space.

“It’s also deliverable.

“The developers are ready to start in April, 2022.”