Controversial plans to build nearly 100 homes on a football ground have been given the go-ahead.

The scheme to build a total of 94 houses across land previously occupied by Wyresdale AFC, off Inverbeg Drive in Breightmet, had been thrown out by Bolton Council’s planning committee last year.

But now, government inspectors have announced that they have overruled this refusal and given the developers the greenlight to proceed.

Cllr Sean Fielding, who represents the area, said: “This is a planning application that predates my election to Bolton Council but based on conversations I had during the election with residents in the area I know that the decision of the planning inspectorate will be disappointing to many.”

The Bolton News: The site off Inverbeg DriveThe site off Inverbeg Drive (Image: Newsquest)

He added: “Part of the reason for this appeal being allowed is the absence of a five year housing land supply in Bolton Council's local plan.

“By law Bolton Council must identify enough land for the number of new homes it is estimated to need over the next five years.

“Bolton Council has not done this and so land, like this, that is not allocated for homes will continue to be at risk of having planning permission granted for development by appeal until it does.”

Last June, the planning committee had voted to reject the plans, lodged by Westchurch Homes Ltd, after hearing concerns about the loss of sports facilities in Bolton.

Residents had also been concerned about the effects this could have had on parking and access to nearby Bury Road.

Cllr Fielding said: “If work does commence on this site I will work with residents and the developer to minimise disruption as much as possible.”

A replacement pitch had been proposed on land just off Radcliffe Moor Road in Radcliffe, less than a mile away and within the same Sport England catchment area.

A report released this week by the UK Planning Inspectorate cited this as a key reason for overruling Bolton Council and allowing the plan to proceed.

It said: “According to the evidence, the proposed scheme located in Bury would provide two replacement football pitches plus two additional ones, a clubhouse building with changing rooms, referee facilities and meeting rooms which would meet the guidance and standards set by Sport England and the Football Association.

“It also highlights that the existing clubhouse and pitches do not meet these standards.

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“The proposed replacement pitches would also be for different age groups and not just for adults and would also help meet an identified need.

“As a result, I consider it likely that the replacement provision would be better in terms of quantity and quality.”

It added: “Turning to the potential benefits of the proposal, it would provide substantial social, and economic benefits including the provision of homes to assist the local planning authority in addressing its significant shortfall in housing land supply and the provision of affordable homes.”