A planning inspector has come down on the side of Peel L&P and its housebuilding arm Northstone following a public inquiry into plans for up to 276 homes at Horwich Golf Club, thrice refused locally.
A five-day inquiry was held into the project following twin appeals by Peel Investments (North) and Northstone Development, Bolton Council having refused separate iterations of its £34m housing project.
Bolton Council was joined by Stocks Residents Association in speaking against the proposals at the inquiry, which had to be put back from May due to illness.
Peel has owned the site off Victoria Road since 2012, and initially proposed 300 homes in 2017, a project refused by Bolton Council.
The local authority then also blocked a scaled-down plan for 276 homes at the start of 2020, triggering Peel’s inital appeal, and a separate application for 150 homes lodged later that year from Northstone, an application that not only reduced the housing volume by close to half but included 15 acres of green space.
In allowing the appeals, planning inspector GD Jones has granted outline consent for both schemes, with reserved matters still to be determined locally.
The inspector said that he had focused on two main issues: whether the site is an acceptable location for housing, with regard to the spatial strategy in the development plan; and the effect of development on the character and appearance of the area, with particular regard to landscape.
With supply an issue – “the council cannot currently demonstrate a framework-compliant supply of housing land and the development plan is based on a significantly constrained housing requirement” – the inspector said he attached limited weight to the council’s housing areas strategy.
He added that he was “not persuaded by the evidence that either of the proposed developments would have a significantly harmful on the character and appearance of the area”. Either scheme, he concluded, would bring benefits to the area and would represent sustainable development.
Jonathan England, development and projects director at Peel L&P and Northstone, said: “The decision reaffirms Bolton’s chronic shortage of housing and without a plan of where this will be delivered across the Borough over the next five years, our proposals go a long way in helping to provide homes for people with a range of needs.”
“We’re pleased the Inspector has recognised this along with the many benefits our developments will have on the local economy through new jobs and investment as well as being respectful to the environment and providing improvements to education, highways and green space for local people.
“We’ll continue to review the appeal decision before taking our next steps and there will be another opportunity for the community to have their say on the detailed designs as and when we decide to take any of these plans forward through a reserved matter application.”
Elsewhere in the area, Peel has been progressing plans to bring an international golf destination and housing to Hulton Park, a plan that in the face of local opposition was approved by Bolton, and then approved at inquiry after being called in.