1,000 people object to new plans for homes on green land in Bolton

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Council officers have recommended approval of the controversial scheme at Smithills.

More than 1,000 people have objected and an MP has complained after a developer resubmitted plans for a block of flats and homes on green land.

Last November, Bolton Council’s planning committee unanimously rejected proposals by Watson Homes to build a block of 35 flats and eight houses on land off Grizedale Close, Smithills.

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The reasons given were that the four-storey apartment building’s siting, height, scale and appearance along with loss of trees and hedgerows would cause ‘harm to the character and appearance of the area’. Councillors also cited issues with internal space standards for the proposed apartments and substandard access and highway safety.

Watson Homes have resubmitted plans for the development with ‘minor amendments’ and council officers now say all apartments now meet the nationally described space standards and the eight houses are now proposed to be market houses rather than affordable units.

Council officers have recommended approval of the scheme in Smithills, Bolton Credit: via LDRSCouncil officers have recommended approval of the scheme in Smithills, Bolton Credit: via LDRS
Council officers have recommended approval of the scheme in Smithills, Bolton Credit: via LDRS | LDRS

As well as submitting the new planning application, Watson Homes has also appealed against the refusal of the previous application.

The Planning Inspectorate has accepted the appeal but has not set a date to hear it. Bolton’s planning committee will consider the application at a meeting on Thursday.

Council officers have recommended approval of the scheme.

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A report put before the committee, said: “Officers still consider that whilst the proposed four storey apartment building will be larger in height and scale than neighbouring residential properties, its presence would not be to the detriment of the character and appearance of the area. While there will still be considerable trees loss, these will be mainly lost from the centre of the site, with all but three peripheral trees within the protected woodland being retained along with the majority of ‘boundary’ trees.

“The majority of trees within the site are to be retained and mitigation tree planting is proposed. Officers therefore still consider that there will not be an unacceptable loss of trees from the site.

“The proposed development would achieve a biodiversity net gain.”

The council’s highways department have raised no objection to the proposed development.

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An online petition objecting to the proposals containing 954 signatures has been submitted to the council in addition to 94 letters of objection. Among the reasons for objection are ‘there is very little change between this application and refused application’, ‘the apartment building is still four storeys and too large/tall’ and ‘the apartment building will look completely out of place, it will be overbearing and an eyesore’.

Other objectors said ‘neighbouring houses and gardens will be overlooked’ and ‘the site is a valued green space’. Chris Green MP has also added his voice to opposition to the plans.

He said the apartment building will create a loss of privacy to neighbouring residents and it would lead to loss of local green space, felling of trees and an increase in traffic.

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