The council allowed cutbacks to the Moor Lane development after an increase in construction costs was a threat to its 'viability'.

The applicant, FSG Moor Lane Bolton Developments Ltd, applied for planning permission for the changes at the end of last year.

Approved more than two years ago, the Moor Lane development includes more than 200 homes across four apartment blocks and 44 townhouses, of which two apartment blocks and the townhouses are already underway.

The changes by FSG Moor Lane Bolton Developments Ltd, a partnership between Bolton at Home and Step Places, affect the two apartments blocks still to be built on the western side of the site next to Moor Lane itself.

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After an increase in construction costs, the partnership want to remove all of the balconies from these apartment blocks and to replace aluminium windows with UPVC windows among a number of other, smaller alterations.

Phil Hepworth, of AEW Architects, told Bolton Council's Planning Committee this week not to do so was a threat to its 'viability'.

Mr Hepworth said: "Ultimately we didn't want to go down this route but since approval there have been a number of factors and we are trying to maintain the integrity of the project. 

"I don't think the loss of the balconies is a dealbreaker in terms of the quality of the scheme. What is a dealbreaker in terms of the quality of the scheme is the quality of the materials."

A report for consideration by the Planning Committee said the balance between any impact on residents and any impact on viability was in favour of the approval of the application.

A motion for the approval of the application passed by a margin of six votes despite criticism from a number of councillors, two of whom compared the development to Forest Bank.

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Andy Morgan, a councillor for Heaton, Lostock and Chew Moor, said: "It is an on balance decision for me but because it is such a catalyst for the regeneration of this area and for the regeneration of the rest of the town I support approval and I ask all members to support approval. 

"Let's get this project done and get more projects in."

Ryan Bamforth, a councillor for Horwich North, said: "If we are to regenerate this town we need to regenerate this town, not build an apartment block to dump a lot of people into. 

"We need to invite the right sort of people to our town, not anybody we can house within an apartment block, where they're looking out of a window like they're in Cell Block H."

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