A councillor criticised planning policy as rigged ahead of the approval of 10 high-end homes in Westhoughton.

The applicant, Forshaw Group, applied for planning permission for the site off Dobb Brow Road on March 24.

The site off Dobb Brow Road, an area of grassland with a garage on it to be demolished, is designated as Other Protected Open Land.

This is a level of protection higher than the protection afforded to most sites but lower than the protection afforded to other sites on Green Belt.

Its development into 10 high-end homes, all two-storey houses apart from one bungalow, was opposed by a number of residents who wrote to the council to express concern over its impact on traffic, in particular at a bottleneck on their road as well as at its junction with Wigan Road, and its impact on services.

A councillor criticised planning policy as rigged ahead of its approval by the Planning Committee this week, saying the requirement for a five-year housing supply set by the central government is unattainable.

The central government announced its intention to remove the requirement for a five-year housing supply last year but it remains in action at this time.

The Bolton News: David Wilkinson at Planning Committee

David Wilkinson, a councillor for the ward, said: "Regrettably I would love to move refusal but we are stuck.

"The figure which we've never met and which we'll never meet in the memory of man is this five-year supply which is rigged against any authority. 

"The figure is set in stone and it is unattainable so all the land anywhere in the borough, whether it is brownfield land or greenfield land, is fair game.

"We are wasting our time as a Planning Committee and we are deceiving members of the public because this figure means they are whistling dixie."

Cllr Wilkinson said developers are buying land on either side of the railway line with the aim of building more than 10 homes but the chair of the committee, John Walsh, said this was not relevant to the proposal.

A motion for the approval of the proposal was passed by a margin of 12 votes.

Cllr Walsh, a councillor for Astley Bridge, said: "We've got an application before us for 10 homes. This is the application we are considering.

"Any other application would need to be reconsidered by this committee."

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email jack.tooth@newsquest.co.uk or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.