But councillors have demanded assurances about the impact of traffic on the site and the removal of contaminated items.
A proposal was put forward by Cllr Kevin McKeon at the town’s planning committee, who suggested the plans, submitted by developers Horwich Vision, should be generally supported by the town council but with conditions.
Developers have said the “new town”, called Rivington Chase, could an extra £19 million to the local economy.
A public meeting on Monday heard concerns from residents about the volume of traffic and the unknown amount of products such as asbestos and cyanide that may remain on the loco works site.
Horwich Vision said it plans to spend £200,000 investigating contamination by asbestos and cyanide deposits in the area — which has about 160 bore holes — and is working with three former workers to find the areas most affected.
Cllr McKeon said: “I propose that we accept this outline application in principle as there are real economic benefits and it will get rid of a contaminated site.
“But I would suggest conditions are included that the planners must be confident of the removal of all the contamination and secondly that they ensure some transport mitigation.”
But the council’s Lib Dem leader, Steve Rock, disagreed, suggesting a decision should be deferred until more answers were provided about key issues.
He said: “I still don’t feel we have had enough of the answers that we need — I think we still need to look at the impact on the town in the future.
“I have real concerns about things like healthcare and the contamination on the site — I think we should defer a decision until we have more information.”
There were also protestations from residents.
Colin Sherrington, who lives in Stocks Park, said: “I am 69-years-old and we are talking about a project that could take 15 to 20 years to make, no-one here is doing this for themselves, this is about the impact on our children and grandchildren and I want you to pass that thought on to Bolton Council.”
The town council voted with Cllr McKeon to recommend approval with the conditions discussed and a final decision on the plans will be made by Bolton Council’s planning committee at a later date.