PLANS for up to 470 new homes at Westleigh Waterfront have moved a step closer after council bosses approved the sale of the land on which the houses are set to be built.

Developers Taylor Wimpey had already received outline planning approval for their vision – to create a new waterside community along the Leigh stretch of the Leeds and Liverpool canal – back in 2016.

But councillors in a cabinet meeting last week agreed the sale of the eight-acre site, of which the town hall owned a portion.

It means that developers now only need the council to sign off their ‘reserved matters’ plans – the detailed proposals.

But more than 30 locals stressed their opposition to the development, saying they had concerns around floods, infrastructure, air quality and housing provision in letters to the town hall’s cabinet, which met last week to discuss the disposal of the land.

One objector said that Leigh had been "swamped" with new build housing developments and questioned – with Brexit – whether population projections were still valid.

But papers that went before last week’s cabinet meeting said that all of those concerns would fall under the remit of the planning authority – and should instead be considered when the full application goes before the planning committee.

But it did say that one of the issues raised by residents – the loss of open space – should be considered by the cabinet members.

Councillors argued however that the area was a suitable one for development – and referred to government rules that require local authorities to provide enough ‘deliverable sites’ for their five-year housing supply.

One cabinet member, Cllr Ronald Conway, said: “The five year supply is set by government.” If the cabinet rejected the sale, the council would have to find somewhere else to meet the borough’s housing need target, he said, arguing: “That may be far more difficult to achieve.”

The cabinet report also argued that the loss of open space to residents was ‘mitigated’ by the ‘availability of other areas of open space in the locality, particularly Pennington Flash and the proposed development will incorporate areas of open space and play facilities’.

The report added that the ‘reserved matters’ planning application – which will outline the full details of the development – is expected in the ‘near future’.