WORK can start on the removal of a controversial recycling plant from a Horwich site after plans to demolish six buildings were approved.

Bolton Council’s planning committee has given permission to recycling firm Armstrong Aggregate Ltd to knock down the buildings at its site on the former Horwich Loco Works.

This will be the first stage of moving the business from the area — after Bolton Council gave bosses a period of three years to pack up and leave.

A deal has been reached to sell the Armstrong’s Environmental site in Chorley New Road to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) — which plans to replace it with more than 400 homes.

The housing will form part of the 1,700-home Rivington Chase development being created across the former Horwich Loco Works site.

Armstrong’s — which produces and recycles sand, gravel and limestone — has now received planning permission to demolish the six buildings as part of its exit plan.

The buildings to go include a riveting tower and boiler shop smithy, a foundry, a workshop, a fitting and machine shop and a smithy.

Armstrong’s has received criticism in the past for the impact its operations have had on local people. Residents, councillors and campaigners have complained about the smells, noise and dust created.

There have also been several huge fires at the plant over the past 10 years which have caused problems for local people as well as the Horwich transport network.

After the committee approved the plans, Horwich and Blackrod Cllr Anne Cunliffe said: “These buildings do hold a lot of memories for ex-employees of the Horwich Loco Works.

“But the people who did work there are pleased to see them going now because they are in a poor state.”

She added: “I am glad that this will see the back of Armstrong’s and so are a lot of the local residents — this is a good thing.”

Assurances were also made by planning officers that any hazardous materials will be removed safely from the development site.