Plans to build eight houses on a former bowling green which hosted festivals and community events for many years have been approved by Salford council.

The land behind the Rock House pub in Barton will be used for housing.

It comes after calls for the plot off Peel Green Road to be used for allotments – but landowner Punch Pubs was not willing to sell the site for these purposes.

READ MORE: This green space was used by a community for years – now it could become housing

Salford council's planning panel approved the application on Thursday (July 29) after deferring its decision on the proposal at a previous meeting on June 3.

Councillors were not convinced that the recreational site was 'surplus to requirements' and requested a 'robust report' from planning officers.

The updated report explained that 10 half-size allotment plots could be accommodated on the site, but this would require a 'willing landowner'.

Barton and Winton councillor John Mullen, who is Salford's ceremonial mayor, told the planning panel that the applicant was behaving like a 'petulant child'.

He said: "When presented with all the options, they say, 'we won't sell'.

"'We won't sell for any community use, gardens for veterans, orchards, allotments – we don't care, we won't sell.'

"We should not pander to this kind of technique. Because they are a willing seller. They have tried to sell this site before, but others have walked away."

Punch Pubs has agreed to contribute £150,000 towards recreational facilities in the area as a mitigation payment for the loss of the former bowling green.

A spokesperson for the company said the site has not functioned as a bowling green for more than 15 years and claimed it 'lay largely dormant' since then.

Rockfest held in 2017 at the former bowling green behind the Rock House pub in Peel Green Road, Barton.
Rockfest held at the former bowling green behind the Rock House pub in 2017

However, neighbours say the community used the site for festivals, car boot sales and other events until the pub fenced off the land a few years ago.

Paul McKenzie, who lives in Ashridge Drive, told the panel that residents feel that the reasons for refusing a similar application in 2014 still stand today.

The objector, whose property is adjacent to the site, argued that the applicant has failed to fully demonstrate that this site is in fact surplus to requirements.

Coun Mullen said approving the application would set a 'dangerous precedent', suggesting that it could 'open a floodgate' for similar developments in Salford.

Planning chair Ray Mashiter said it would be a hard decision for the panel.

Eccles councillor Mike McCusker, who is the lead member for planning and sustainable development at Salford council, also said it would be a 'difficult' decision, but argued that there is a 'desperate need' for family housing.

Joseph Timan, Local Democracy Reporter for Salford and Wigan at the Manchester Evening News

Jo is a Local Democracy Reporter covering councils, the NHS and other public services in Salford and Wigan.

If you want to contact Jo directly, you can email him at [email protected]

Weaste and Seedley councillor Philip Cusack 'reluctantly' agreed.

He said: "I don't think there's any reasonable assumption that this land will be put into any recreational use by anybody other than the council.

"The council would have to acquire it as we've heard and that would cost. We can't acquire it, we don't have the money. We can't [Compulsory Purchase Order] it.

"I can't see any pragmatic alternative and I think in this case, unless we want to see the land remain derelict, I don't see any alternative to approving this application.

"I understand the passion of the local councillors and some of the local residents, but I can't see their desires for this land ever coming into fruition."

The application was approved by the planning panel, with only councillor Peter Taylor voting against the development and councillor Tanya Burch abstaining.

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