PLANNING bosses have pledged to protect Bury’s green belt — as developers urge the council to make more land available to build homes.

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) has claimed Bury Council should be more “ambitious” and find more space to address the “strong demand” for house building.

But Bury Council maintains that the town can only accommodate the building of 400 new homes a year without moving into the green belt.

The plea from developers comes after the council’s core strategy, which sets out the town’s housing, employment and retail needs until 2029, was thrown out by an inspector because there was “little prospect” of the plan being sound.

Matthew Good, planning manager at HBF, said: “We have found that across Greater Manchester there is strong demand for house building.

“We need local authorities across the region, such as Bury, to be positive about their housing numbers and more ambitious in seeking opportunities to meet the housing needs of local people.

“As well as the obvious social benefits that come with building more new homes, increasing house building activity will also give a welcome boost to the local economy through the creation of jobs.

“With greater support from local authorities, increased house building across the city region can be a real catalyst for change, creating jobs, prosperity and growth, driving forward a balanced economic recovery.”

Cllr Sandra Walmsley, the council’s cabinet member for resource and regulation, said developers want to build 800 to 1,000 houses a year — but claimed that permission to build 3,000 new houses in Bury has been granted but that no building work has started.

She said: “We are determined to protect as much of Bury’s green space as we can — this is what the people of Bury want us to do.

“Councils have been put in a very difficult position, with Government guidance forcing them to find more and more land for housing to increase housebuilding rates across the country, regardless of local constraints and public opinion.

“Our core strategy aims to meet housing needs in a balanced and sustainable way, which includes protecting the environment and promoting the use of brownfield land in urban areas.”