PLANS to knock down an old church near Westhoughton and build three homes have been rejected.

The application to demolish the old Independent Methodist Church in Dicconson Lane, Aspull, was refused by Bolton Council's planning committee.

Officers were worried the third proposed house, which would have been located at the rear of the development, would have constituted building in open space.

The officer's report stated: "I have discussed your proposals at great length with the Principal Planning Officer. We agree that the principle of redevelopment on the site is acceptable as long as the development is not materially larger than the building it replaces as per the council's allocated plan policies.

"The scale and design of the properties to the front of the site is considered to be acceptable.

"However the rear property is sited in what is an open, undeveloped area and as such is considered to be unacceptable.

"I understand that the redevelopment has to be viable and the scaling down of the proposal to two properties could be restrictive. Has the applicant considered three town houses to the front of the site to stay, approximately, within the footprint of the original building."