A GOVERNMENT decision to allow 300 new homes to be built in Westhoughton has been labelled ‘a betrayal’ and ‘a whitewash’.

The overturning of Bolton Council’s refusal for the plans for land at Lee Hall, near the Chequerbent Roundabout, has also deepened fears over the future of other protected land across the borough.

Cllr David Chadwick, the council's cabinet member for highways, said he was 'appalled' by the decision.

He said: “I genuinely thought that the inspector would see sense and at the very least delay the verdict until a decision has been made about the Westhoughton Bypass.

"I thought that the inspector was receptive to the arguments I made, so I am very disappointed. I am appalled, it is a whitewash. I thought we had a fighting chance. This makes me more and more determined to fight the Hulton Park plans. That park has been around for centuries and I am distraught at Peel’s plans for it.”

Bolton West MP Chris Green has blamed the council for the decision, which comes after similar appeals in Westhoughton and Blackrod.

He said: “I’m very disappointed but I can’t say that I am surprised. Yet again, the inspector has given the same reason: that Bolton Council hasn’t met its own housing target. This was the same reason we had for Bowlands Hey and Hill Lane in Blackrod.

“The Greater Manchester mayor and our council leader need to get their act together and get the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework written. Until they’ve done this, we’ll continue to see more decisions like this one. This development will have a huge impact on our town’s already congested roads, creaking public transport and over-flowing schools.”

Council leader Cliff Morris said: "This is a betrayal of the Bolton public. Developers need to step up and develop brownfield land - we are now at 9,000 undeveloped permissions.

“Where is the strategic support, and penalties, from Government to see this through?

"The Government is stacking the odds in favour of the developers to clear the crisis without proper thought and the MP needs to get behind his constituents and lobby his government to listen.”

Persimmon says that it expects to begin construction in the second half of next year.

A spokesman for the developer said: “We are delighted that the Planning Inspector has supported our proposals to provide much needed family homes in the Westhoughton area, together with the creation of attractive parkland and the safeguarding of future bypass proposals.

“Together with our development partner, Harcourt, we are currently finalising the proposed scheme and would anticipate beginning construction in the second half of 2018.”

The inspector said that the Lee Hall site would make a ‘timely contribution’ to closing the gap towards meeting the borough’s housing needs.

It is expected that this decision will have major implications on future development in the borough — including Peel Holdings’ plans to build a championship golf course and 1,000 homes on the Hulton Park Estate, plus a further 300 at Horwich Golf Course.

Conservative Westhoughton North councillor Martyn Cox added: “Anyone who lives next to any open protected land will be very concerned now.

“To have such a big development in an area that the council was so clear about wanting to protect is very worrying.

“Open protected land no longer means anything. If the Hulton Park scheme goes ahead, then people will ask the same about green belt.”

A Bolton Council spokesman said: “We are extremely disappointed that the Planning Inspector has overturned our decision.

“The application was recommended for refusal by the planning department. Councillors at planning committee also supported this recommendation, and duly refused the application.

“We defended our position robustly at the inquiry and maintained that a scheme for a new Westhoughton bypass should be properly planned before any development goes ahead.”