MCI and Eden Land will press ahead with a 250-home scheme on playing fields in Bolton after winning a planning appeal.
Bolton Council had refused the proposals twice, first an outline application last summer, followed by a detailed planning application in January this year, despite a recommendation to approve from officers.
The developers are planning to build up to 250 houses on the site, which is privately-owned but used by three local rounders teams.
The council had rejected both applications on the basis of a loss of open space, as well highways issues around the development’s impact on traffic on Hulton Lane.
Its planning committee had argued the plans would “result in the loss of a large area of informal open space in a densely populated and deprived area of the borough”, and added: “The loss of this informal open space which is highly valued by the local community would not be offset by the provision of an off-site contribution to enhance other areas of informal open space in the Hulton ward”.
Councillors also added any loss of open space would be “detrimental to the health and well-being of local residents”.
However, independent planning inspector Siobhan Watson argued sports facilities would be improved under an agreement with the developer, which is proposing to put £25,000 towards the rounders club. This would include developing a replacement facility and pavilion, with the freehold or leasehold transferred to the rounders club. The club currently uses a small portion of land to the north of the site.
“At the moment, the club has no security of tenure so these actions would represent a significant improvement to the remaining green space,” said the planning inspector.
“There would be no conflict with [Bolton Council’s] development plan; the rounders facility would be improved and its future made more secure; and there is a very substantial amount of open space next to the site. These factors outweigh the conflict with [the NPPF] and it is my overall conclusion that the proposal would not have a materially adverse impact upon the provision of open space.”
The committee had also refused the scheme over its “unacceptable impact on highway safety” along with its perceived “severe residual cumulative impact on the operational capacity of the surrounding highway”.
Again, however, the inspector ruled in favour of MCI; Watson argued there would be “no material harm to highway safety” if the proposal is built out.
The inspector said there was “no technical evidence” to support objectors’ argument that the development would impact parking on neighbouring roads and added the proposals would have an “acceptable” impact on the highway network.
MCI and Eden are looking to start the scheme in the coming months following the appeal victory. Both parties were represented by planner Lichfields, along with transport consultant Croft and David Manley of Kings Chambers, in the appeal.
Simon Pemberton, senior director and head of Lichfields’ Manchester office, said: “This development will deliver much needed homes within the existing urban area of Bolton, on what is poor quality open space. It will secure the provision of an improved playing pitch as well as its long-term availability for community use.”
Bolton Council was represented by DPP Planning.