PLANS for three apartment blocks next to Prestwich Metrolink station have been approved despite ‘strong’ opposition.

A Bury Council planning committee meeting heard the development could pave the way for an additional park and ride area for motorists using the Metrolink.

Square One Homes Ltd plan to build six single-storey and 12 duplex flats on land off Poppythorn Lane, a stone’s throw from the tram stop.

The site currently contains a number of garages and commercial buildings, which the developer says ‘are in a state of disrepair’.

The meeting heard objections from residents about the plans for the six single-storey and 12 duplex flats.

One resident told the meeting: “The comments the local community made about highways have been ignored.

“Every day we face horrendous traffic congestion on the corner of Heys Road and Fairfax Road. Traffic is constantly backed up in rush hour and school drop off and pick up times.

“The access is close to the Fairfax Road junction and will only add to the current issues.”

Cllr Steve Wright also spoke against the plans at the meeting.

He said: “On behalf of residents I wish to object in the strongest possible terms. There are several planning reasons for this.

“The site is incredibly small and 18 apartments and 18 parking spaces crammed in this space is unrealistic. It is over development.

“The proposal for a three-storey building is out of character with the area, which is predominantly two-storey semi-detached.”

But Graham Love, on behalf of the applicants, said: “This application has many benefits.

“It re-uses brownfield land close to Prestwich centre, it removes unsightly derelict buildings and will provide much better access for Prestwich cricket, tennis and bowling club and provides better access for residents of Heys Road and will provide access to build a park and ride on its land for Transport for Greater Manchester.

“It will provide innovative low cost one and two bedroom homes aimed at first-time buyers, key workers and young professionals – people who are normally priced out of the market in Prestwich.”

Presently there is a single track access road to the site, leading to Prestwich cricket ground, and there is nearby pedestrian access to the village centre, passing under the Metrolink line.

The site is currently identified as a potential park and ride area for the tram stop but has not been developed as such.

Twenty-one letters of objection were received by the council. The committee voted by a majority to approve the plans.