A CONTROVERSIAL plan for a temporary car park near Horwich Leisure Centre has been recommended for approval despite widespread opposition.

Bolton Council has proposed to create 82 spaces at a former contractor's yard in Old Station Park, off Chorley New Road, for a 12-month period.

The planning statement said the funding for the demolition of the old leisure facility, which is to be turned into a health centre, has been delayed.

The plans were widely criticised by residents and by the town council, which formally objected to the proposals.

Several councillors, including town mayor Cllr Steve Rock, were worried about losing part of Old Station Park for good if Bolton Council decided to make it permanent.

But the application looks set for approval at Thursday's planning committee.

The planning report stated: "It is considered that the proposed temporary use of the application site as an additional car parking area for the new leisure centre for a 12-month period would only have a short term harm on the function and appearance of the park, would not jeopardise highway or pedestrian safety and would not unduly harm the amenity of neighbouring residents.

"This permission shall be for a temporary period expiring on October 26 2018 when the car park hereby approved shall be discontinued and the land reinstated in accordance with a scheme to be approved in writing by the local planning authority before the expiry of this permission.

"The approved scheme shall be implemented in full within three months of the car park use being ceased and retained thereafter.

"The applicant has only applied for temporary permission, and to ensure that the park and games area are fully reinstated to their former use following the development."

The car park, if approved, would only be opened to visitors and staff of the leisure centre between 5pm and 9pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays.

These would be imposed in order to 'safeguard the living conditions of residents with regard to noise and/or disturbance', according to the planning officer's report.

Despite assurances from the council that it would be temporary, town councillor Steve Chadwick was not convinced.

He said: "I have read the information they have provided but obviously the residents have massive concerns. It is a problem of Bolton Council's own making.

"It is just bonkers, we should not be in this situation. There are not enough car parking spaces.

"It is just ad hoc. They have created a problem and this area should not have to be used as a car park.

"Even if we accepted that it was going to be temporary, it still isn't great. Personally, I do not accept that it will be temporary."

The leisure centre is due to be finished in the autumn and the old centre is set to be knocked down to make way for a new health centre.

Car parking for the new leisure centre was to be built as part of the health centre.

But the health funding delay has meant that the demolition has been pushed back, forcing the council to apply for the temporary car park.

A spokesman from Bolton Council said in a recent statement: "This application has proved necessary due to the unanticipated delay in the health centre project. At this time we are making an application for 12 months in the anticipation that the health centre proposal will proceed at the earliest opportunity."

The application will go before Bolton Council's planning committee on Thursday at 2pm.