PLANS to build almost 400 new homes on the former Horwich Loco works site have been approved by councillors.

Developers Morris Homes had brought forward the plans for the northern area of the Rivington Chase scheme which has outline permission for up 1,700 homes, along with employment areas and open space.

The plans are part of a larger £262m development of the former locomotive works.

Approval has already been granted for a major road close to the development which will link Chorley New Road to Aspinall Way at the Middlebrook retail and business area.

The houses proposed are to be a mix of detached, semi-detached and mews with six apartments.

But objections were raised over a loss of woodland, a lack of education provision and fears the development was taking place on contaminated land which could affect costs.

Speaking at Bolton Council’s planning meeting where she called for the decision to be deferred, Cllr Marie Brady, said: “Viability and community is not just a roof over your head, it is the services you need to live as well.

“Applications significantly different to the original masterplan have been continually submitted with a further loss of green space and a lack of clarity about pedestrian routes within the development."

Speaking on behalf of Morris Homes, John Coxon, said: “This is a high quality design that delivers on key principles including the spine road, central green corridor and a network of shared footways and cycleways.”

Although Mr Coxon admitted the site was contaminated and this could affect costs and the ability to deliver 7.5 per cent affordable housing provision, he added: “There is a claw back mechanism when the development nears completion and to put it bluntly if the developers costs have been underestimated then it will be picked up then.

“We don’t consider there is any justification to delay further the development of this site.”

Rejecting calls to defer the decision, Cllr Nick Peel, said: “We either have these large brown field sites allocated for housing or we have a speculative system of planning on appeal on sites that we don’t want to lose.

“You cannot resist this development and then in the same breath protect other parts of Horwich from speculative developments. It is simply not possible.”