HOMES suitable for the elderly should be prioritised in Blackrod, according to a draft plan released today.

New, converted and extended independent, assisted living and extra care facilities for older people should be encouraged, the plan says.

This is part of an attempt to address the disproportionately older population in Blackrod where around a third of properties are home to over-65s.

The policy is among many featured in the first draft of the Blackrod Development Neighbourhood Plan released today.

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Town councillor Alan Bury, who chairs the steering group responsible for the plan which could shape Blackrod for the next 15 years, explained the housing stock issues.

He said: “The biggest thing that came out of it was the increasing age in population in Blackrod. We have a higher proportion of the ageing population compared to Bolton and the rest of England. So there should be more suitable accommodation.”

The document specifies that housing proposals should be supported if they make a positive contribution to meeting these needs, including homes for down-sizing, as well as residential or nursing care.

The plan also covers public transport improvements, maintaining heritage sites and protecting open spaces.

Cllr Bury said: “As far as we are concerned, there should be no development in the green belt. The National Framework states the only reasons to build on green belt.”

A six-week consultation on the plans begins today, which will be followed by a local referendum once the plans are approved by Bolton Council.

There will also be a public drop-in event to ask questions about the plan at Blackrod Community Centre from 10am to 8pm on January 4.

The plan is available to view online or at Blackrod library.