PLANS to build 24 flats on a former bowling green at the back of the Grant Arms pub in Ramsbottom have been rejected.

Members of Bury planning committee made the decision at a meeting on Tuesday night sparking celebrations amongst about 20 objectors in the public gallery.

Astim Ltd had a similar application for the Market Place site rejected in January amid concerns about the flats’ design, which some objectors said was suitable for the Benidorm beachfront but not for historic Ramsbottom.

At Tuesday's meeting, planning agent Richard Mawdsley said developers had worked with Bury Council officers since then to redesign the flats and a recommendation was made to approve the application, despite 92 formal objections.

However, the committee voted unanimously to reject the plan on the basis that it would lead to a loss of open space and recreational space in Ramsbottom.

Mr Andrew Todd, representing Friends of Nuttall Park, Friends of Ramsbottom Civic Hall and Ramsbottom Heritage Society, said the site had a 'triple lock' of protection from development because it is in a conservation area, open space, and an asset of community value.

He added: "The developer ignores your triple lock of protection and offers you a plan that is virtually identical to the one rejected a few months ago.

"These so-called homes for the elderly will perch on the town's steepest hill by a venue for late-night functions (the civic hall). The planning process exists to prevent such gross incompatibility."

The council's development control manager Dave Marno countered claims that elderly people would struggle to walk on the site, especially in the winter, stating that every part of Ramsbottom is on a hill and it was up to the council to ensure roads and footpaths are accessible.

Committee member Cllr Alan Matthews said: "When members of the committee visited the site, our minibus could not get all the way up the hill and, as we got out, one of us slipped. What would it be like for a group of elderly residents?"