Plans that would see 23 acres of trees chopped down and 1,000 houses built in Westhoughton is not the right way to deal with the housing crisis, the leader of Bolton Council has said.
Councillor Linda Thomas is considering a counterproposal to take the pressure off the borough’s green belt.
The plans which were brought forward by the property developer Peel form its bit for Bolton to host the 2026 Ryder Cup. Early in the year, the plans were called in for a public inquiry with a final decision expected at the end of the year.
Councillor Shafaqat Shaikh, who represents Hulton Ward, is asking the council leader for support to protect Hulton Park. He is calling for the homes proposed to be built on the park to be taken out of the land identified to meet the borough’s five-year housing supply.
It’s hoped the move will relieve the pressure to develop the historic 800-acres of parkland.
Bolton Council submitted its initial draft to the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework last Friday (21 September) detailing sites it has identified to meet the borough’s housing demand.
Details are expected to emerge as a document in October when Greater Manchester’s leaders meet to agree on the proposals for a public consultation.
The draft will form the “radical rewrite” and “substantial reduction” in the loss of greenbelt Mayor Andy Burnham said he would work towards.
Councillor Linda Thomas said: “My views are well known, I’ve fought over-development in the borough for 30 years and I do not believe that this is the right way to deal with the housing crisis. Our priority is brownfield first and our £1 billion masterplan is leading the way on this.”
“Despite my disappointment, Bolton’s planning committee is independent and it approved the application in-line with the government’s planning guidance. This is a chance for the government to set a new direction and to prove it is serious about protecting our green belt.”
She added: “I offered every councillor to come forward with their own ideas before our submission to the GMSF. Councillor Shaikh and Hulton Area Residents Together were among those who asked. He is passionate about protecting the green belt site of Hulton Park – a heritage site. We are looking at just how we can protect the future of Hulton Park.”
The final GMFS plan is expected to be published in July 2019 and it will need to be ratified by each council.