RESIDENTS in Breightmet are celebrating after a scheme to build houses on a soccer club's playing fields was withdrawn.

Barratt Homes wanted to build 75 houses on land owned by Wyresdale Football Club, one of the oldest in Bolton.

But, following public protests and predictions that councillors would probably refuse the application, the house builders have pulled out.

Football club bosses wanted to sell the land and relocate to a new site at Croftside. They, too, have withdrawn their application. Assistant secretary Aamar Ahmed said games may now have to be played at Brookhouse Playing Fields, Salford, as the Breightmet pitch has drainage problems.

"I'm disappointed we had to withdraw because at Croftside we would have had good facilities," said Mr Ahmed.

"There may come a time when we can't afford to stay where we are. We could end up abandoning the site altogether."

Barratt Homes wanted to build three-storey town houses and four-bedroom detached houses on the site, off Brodick Drive.

Residents feared they would lose a playing field the club let them use and a footpath to Blackshaw Primary School and that the roads would not be able to cope with the traffic.

The football club, founded in 1864, wanted to move because it is £28,000 in debt and has no room to expand.

Campaigner Thomas Brewer, of Honiton Drive, Breightmet, said: "I'm very pleased. There will still be a green area at the top of my street and the increase in traffic will not now happen."

About 400 residents went to a meeting at Breightmet Labour Club.

Mother-of-two Lynne Settle, of Mendip Drive, said: "It's good news that Barratt has withdrawn its application. Nobody around here wanted to lose the playing fields."

Breightmet councillor Madelline Murray said: "The residents have kept their open space, but I hope the football club can resolve its situation."

No one was available to comment at Barratt Homes.