Association defends ‘controversial’ green field development

Bolton At Home said its plans for affordable homes are being confused with a profit-driven motive.

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A housing association in the North West of England has defended its plans for the construction of a new development on the towns ‘much-loved’ green fields.

Bolton At Home, which had planned to buy Pickup’s Fields from the council for around £500,000, said its proposals are being confused with a profit-driven development.

The groups CEO, Jon Lord said that he understands why people are wary of the proposal, but wants to dispel “myths” circulating online which “misrepresent” the organisation’s objectives.

The comments have been made ahead of a town hall meeting tomorrow (21st August) in which councillors will have their say on whether the land should be sold for housing.

The meeting also follows a recommendation by a scrutiny committee that the land should be kept as a green space for the Horwich community.

Plans to develop the 48 houses were refused by the planning committee last month after a total of 456 objections were received.

On the proposals, Jon Lord said: He said: “We’re a community benefit society trying to provide desperately-needed affordable homes of good quality, which can be seen in the new homes we’ve built over the past three years.

“We’re not a private developer looking to build as many houses as possible. We’re not in this for the money.”

“Our remit is simply to build affordable homes where they are needed. We do this based on clear evidence of demand and we do it in a sensitive way, following local consultation.

“We’re not trying to build expensive gated mansions, but houses for working people.”

Bolton At Home have also said that they believe that some residents were encouraged to object to the development without being made aware of all the facts, with Lord adding there has been a lot of ‘misinformation’ circulating about the future of neighbouring playing fields.

He said: “People see social media posts and reports that we’re building homes on playing fields and it creates the impression we’re carpeting green space with houses.

“We don’t randomly pick on particular areas. We’re not trying to build on every inch of available land.”

The land in dispute was earmarked for housing by the council five years ago.

If the plans are approved, rents would be capped below the affordable rent rate, which is usually set at 80% of the market rent level in an area, for 40 of the homes.

The other eight homes would be made available for shared ownership.

Deputy council leader Martyn Cox will have the final say on whether the land is sold.

Image: Bolton At Home’s plans, the Bolton News.

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