Land earmarked for housing should instead be kept as a green space, a committee of councillors have recommended.
Housing association Bolton At Home wants to buy Pickup’s Fields from the council for around half a million pounds but the sale stalled.
Last night, a scrutiny committee escalated the decision to be debated at the next full council meeting, recommending that the land is not sold for housing.
Lib Dem leader Roger Hayes, supported by Horwich and Blackrod First Independents leader Marie Brady, put forward the proposal which all councillors will have their say on at the end of August.
He said: “I’ve got no doubt that there’s a very great need for social housing in the borough and for affordable housing. It’s the strength of feeling amongst the Horwich community – 456 objections is massive. And that seems to be backed up unanimously by Horwich Town Council.”
Plans to build 48 houses at the site were refused by the planning committee last week but the decision could be overturned at an appeal.
Cllr Hayes argued that if the local authority says it will not sell the land, it would not incur the costs of fighting an appeal.
The grassy land behind Singleton Avenue is next to a protected recreation site but this specific spot was earmarked for housing by the previous administration.
Now, Labour leader Linda Thomas says that the land should not be sold for housing given all the objections.
She said: “This land is a valuable community asset and should be available for use by the community for recreation and leisure purposes as was the case before being included in the allocations plan.”
But planning committee chairman John Walsh said that if the council does not built on land already allocated for housing, this could have “serious implications” on efforts to protect the green belt.
The Conservative councillor suggested taking the matter to the next council meeting for a “full and open” debate.
Councillors can have their say at the next meeting on August 21 before voting on either agreeing or commenting on the decision.
Deputy leader Martyn Cox will ultimately make the final decision.