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24 Jun 2021

Environmental and socio-economic benefits of Horwich housing proposals to be heard at public inquiry

Plans to build family and affordable homes in Bolton to help meet local housing demand, with an investment of over £34million in the local area and the creation 235 jobs will be heard at a five-day public inquiry to be held virtually from 28 June.

Since the original proposals for 300 homes off Victoria Road, including the site of the former Horwich Golf Club, were submitted in 2017, Peel L&P has reduced the development by two hectares and to 276 homes.

A report into the socio-economic benefits* of the 276-home development found that the project, during its construction, would boost Bolton’s economy by £15.4m and help aid a post-pandemic recovery. The scale of investment also has the potential to support 235 jobs in the construction sector.

Around an additional £5million per year would also be spent in the local economy by new residents.

In response to concerns around the impact on the landscape in Peel L&P’s original proposals, the north east site boundary has also been realigned to help protect the area’s views and just under 50% of the site would be green space and woodland with improved access to footpaths.

94 of the 276 homes equating to 34% would be allocated for shared ownership or affordable rent working with a registered housing provider. Peel L&P would also contribute £274,000 towards education contributions to St Joseph’s RC High School and highway improvements at Beehive roundabout where the council has identified a funding gap.

Furthermore, Peel L&P will support recreational improvements at Old Station Park in Horwich and Nellie’s Clough that runs through the site with new tree planting, hedge grows and meadow grassland to attract wildlife.

The Planning Inspector on the previous scheme of 300 homes back in July 2019 found that the site would make a positive contribution to meeting the Bolton’s housing need but dismissed the appeal due to the impact of the north eastern part of the site.  The proposals were revised to resolve that issue but the 276 homes were refused by Bolton Council in January 2020 with Peel L&P taking the decision to appeal.

Then, in September last year, Peel L&P’s homebuilder Northstone also brought forward fresh plans for a smaller 150-home development at the same site with a third of homes earmarked for people with affordable housing needs.

The Northstone proposals also feature a new 15-acre recreational and ecological green space for local people with community orchards, play areas and a children’s woodland.  Bolton Council refused the Northstone application in December 2020 and Northstone has also appealed. The Planning Inspector will now consider both proposals at the inquiry.

As well as the identified socio-economic benefits and helping to meet the shortage of new family and affordable housing, both proposals would deliver a biodiversity net gain whereby habitat would be left in a better condition than before any development.

Peel L&P acquired Horwich Golf Club in 2012 and has since helped to keep the struggling business running for the past eight years. The golf course, which is open to members only, is due to close in 2023 when the funding support ends.

Phil Wilson, Executive Director for Land, Communities and Homebuilding at Peel L&P said: “Bolton has a housing shortage that isn’t being met and we want to provide a mix of quality, energy efficient homes that suit a range of needs and give people more choice.

“We’ve adapted our plans based on local feedback and public inquiry recommendations by reducing the size of the schemes to lessen the impact on the landscape and creating new green spaces for the community and areas for wildlife habitats to flourish.

“We’ve presented two different residential schemes to Bolton with affordable housing to help the borough find homes for some 3,000 households on its social housing waiting list and we hope the Inspector will recognise the benefits the proposals bring to the area - economically, socially and environmentally.”

Photo: CGI of Northstone’s 150-home proposals for Horwich.