A major under construction town centre housing development faces ‘viability issues’ with the developer wishing to make design changes to cut costs.

The Moor Lane development on the site of the former Bolton bus station behind Le Mans Crescent is currently being built, bringing 206 homes to the town centre in four apartment blocks and rows of townhouses.

In amended plans set to go before Bolton Council’s planning committee next week, developer Moor Lane Bolton Developments Ltd is seeking to remove elements of the approved plans including balconies and decorative brickwork from two six-storey blocks it has yet to start building.

Other cost cutting measures they hope to see approved include changing planned aluminium window frames to UPVC and omitting four access gates to be replaced by extended brick walls.

In a covering letter to planners, Moor Lane Bolton Developments, said: “The Moor Lane development is currently facing viability issues because of the grant funding position and recent increases in construction costs.

“A detailed review of the scheme design to try and address these issues and take account of feedback provided by the investors and operators of the development has taken place.

“The overall number and mix of residential units within the development would be unaffected by these proposed changes.”

The approved plans are for 162 flats and 44 three-storey, three-bed houses along with retail space and two small parks.

The two apartment blocks for which balcony plans would be removed are set to be built on Moor Lane side of the development site and will be six storeys in height. A planning officer report has recommended councillors approve the proposed amendments to the scheme.

The report said: “Officers are of the view that while the absence of balconies will result in a development that is substantially different to the approval in visual terms, the balconies are not essential in terms of delivering adequate living conditions.

“The use of UPVC windows is less preferable to the use of aluminium frames, but given that blocks are some distance from the Town Hall conservation area and form part of the Moor Lane street scene, their use is not considered to be unacceptable.

“The removal of decorative features within the brickwork will make the appearance of the two blocks less distinctive; however, taking the scheme as a whole and considering the quality of the public realm scheme, the quality of the development overall will not be unacceptably devalued.”

At the original planning meeting which gave approval to the Moor Lane apartment blocks with balconies and decorative brickwork, former councillor Bob Allen likened the ‘featureless’ architecture to ‘H-wing at Forest Bank prison in Agecroft’.

He said at the November 2021 meeting: “The similarities in the façades are incredible.”