The conversion of a building to create a Farnworth HMO (house of multiple occupation) was approved despite a comparison to a "battery farm".

The applicant, a Mr P Singh, applied for planning permission for the site on Higher Market Street over the summer.

Earlier an application for a house with 14 bedrooms was refused by the council because it overlooked other properties and because there was a lack of communal space for the residents.

However this application was for a house with one fewer bedroom, a change to the windows to solve the overlooking and the creation of a living area to solve the lack of communal space.

The conversion of the building remained a point of contention after 18 residents wrote to the council to express concern over its impact on a range of issues from pressure on the roads or pressure on services to a rise in anti-social behaviour or criminal behaviour.

It was approved despite a comparison to a "battery farm" by one councillor on the Planning Committee this week.

The Bolton News: Debbie Newall at Planning Committee

Debbie Newall, a councillor for the ward, said: "I am not against HMOs in principle. In some areas they are a success. They bring benefits into some areas in as much as communities can thrive when businesses open up in an area where there are a number of them.

"What I am against is HMOs like this. This is not a home. This is a battery farm for people. 

"To cram them in and to talk about it as if it's a household when at best it's a hostel or a hotel.

"In this country the hens have outside perches but these people do not have outside perches."

A report for consideration by the Planning Committee suggested the change to the windows and the creation of a living area were enough to allow the approval of the proposal.

A motion for the approval of the proposal passed by a margin of four votes.

Anne Galloway, a councillor for Heaton and Lostock, said: "I want to refuse it and I am upset we haven't got the grounds to refuse it. 

"I think I am going to vote for it but I am upset we haven't got the grounds to do what we want."

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.