Housebuilder Bellway has won an appeal for 167 Westhoughton homes, twice refused locally, while also starting on site at the former Ingol Golf Club site in Preston.
The Westhoughton scheme, effectively the second phase of a 300-home housing project called Bowlands Hey, was initially turned down in 2018 as a 174-home application.
Following an unsuccessful appeal, plans were scaled down slightly and reworked. This iteration was heard at committee this February, but despite officers recommending approval, it was also turned down.
The inspector said the main issue was the effect of the 19.5-acre development proposal on the character and appearance of the area, with specific reference to the landscape impact.
In ruling in its favour, she said that while the site is clearly valued by local people, it already forms part of a settled, urbanised landscape. In addition, although the site is classed as Other Protected Open Land, Bolton can only demonstrate a housing supply of three- to-3.6 years.
Setting out the reasons for allowing the appeal, the inspector described how changes made to the boundaries of the scheme would result in a reduced impact – it was noted that “unlike the previous scheme, the current proposal is heavily landscape led, particularly around the edges”. The number of trees to be added has risen from 190 to 255.
Several local councillors have condemned the decision, with Cllr David Wilkinson telling the Bolton News that “appeals have become a joke”.
Bellway will feel differently. In a statement, the firm’s Manchester division told Place North West: “We are delighted that the scheme has been approved by the Secretary of State. We are currently reviewing the decision notice and taking the next steps towards what we hope will be a start on site by the end of this year or early in 2021.”
In Preston, groundworks on roads and sewers are now under way. Bellway has planning consent for 152 new build homes on a 31.7-acre site.
The site forms part of the redevelopment of the former Ingol Golf Club, which includes around 300 further houses in various projects and a new training ground for Preston North End FC. Bellway’s scheme is billed as Cotton Woods, a reference to the course’s designer, the famed golfer Henry Cotton.
It will include a mix of two- and three-bedroom semi-detached homes as well as three- and four-bedroom detached houses.
Sales director at Bellway, Jenny Bell, said: “We are the first housebuilder to receive approval to develop at the former Ingol Golf Club site and to be making a start on site.”