PLANS for 255 homes on mostly green belt sites along with a £2.6m restoration of the Bolton and Bury Canal have been unanimously thrown out.
Developers Watson Construction wanted to build on the former Creams Paper Mill, off Mytham Road and Hall Lane, in Little Lever.
The proposals also included £2.64m project to create and restore tow paths along the Bolton and Bury Canal and to repair a breach, dating back to 1936 in that waterway as well as a path linking the Hall Lane development to Moses Gate country park.
The old mill is allocated for housing, though the development site extends beyond that area into green belt land.
The plans for Hall Lane were for 77 homes, built for private sale, and Mytham Road would have seen 66 affordable homes built.
The former mill proposal was for 44 affordable apartments, 44 affordable houses and 24 apartments for private rent.
The canal proposal would see works to reinstate the dry section of canal to water and the reinstatement of tow paths.
The plans had been the subject of 89 objections from Little Lever residents and Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi also opposed the scheme
Bolton Council’s planning committee heard from a spokesman from Little Lever Green Belt Action Group.
He said: “The land at Mytham Road and Hall Lane is entirely designated as green belt and therefore should not be built on. The entrance to the Hall Lane site is only 50 metres from Little Lever High School.
“The plans will increase commuter traffic through Little Lever, which is already gridlocked at peak times.
“These plans will mean substantial harm to the environment and wildlife.”
Watson Homes said the plans presented ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity’ to repair the canal breach and that 61 per cent (154) of the homes would be affordable.
They said the merits of the plans outweighed the harm to the green belt and there would be a biodiversity gain with 4,000 trees planted to replace the 400 lost.
Chris Nash, from the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal Society, spoke in favour of the plans.
He said: “We ask for these plans to repair the breach and reconnect the canal for four reasons. To provide new waterway improvements to the aquatic and woodland habitat along the canal.
“Improved access to residents on foot, for push chairs, cyclists and on water canoeists and paddle-boarders.
“It will be a new leisure area for residents, improving health and well-being and it invests £2.6m, which will be the catalyst for further funding for the canal from Sport England, Heritage Lottery and the levelling up fund.”
Cllr Martin McMulkin proposed that the plans be rejected.
He said; “There are some patently obvious benefits from this development.
“However, if it is passed it cuts right through any claims that this council can make it terms of us protecting the green belt.
“There are some positives but they are massively outweighed by the effect this will have on a much treasured piece of green belt.”
All councillors on the planning committee voted to reject the plans.