FARM buildings described as “monstrosities” which were built on Holcombe Hill without planning permission have been given the green light to expand.

A 12-metre long agricultural building, more than three metres in height, can now be built on the historic hill itself, and a three-metre long pig arc and two-metre tall timber shed will be relocated elsewhere on the site.

This comes after heritage consultants commissioned by residents against the proposal, said the 389 cubic metre excavation of the sloping rural landscape, which is needed to accommodate the new structures, would be “irreversible”.

The planning committee has also granted permission for a green shipping container, which can be seen from Holcombe Hill, to stay on site at Margaret Haes Riding School for at least five years – but its appearance must be altered.

Cllr Jackie Harris described both the shipping container and farm buildings as “monstrosities” and said the pig arc in particular, which must now be painted black, would still look “dreadful” whichever colour it is painted.

She said: “It is obtrusive – you cannot say it is anything else. You’re directly under the line of the famous monument that gives Bury its heritage.

“When you drive along the main road, you really do have a lovely view of the area, and it would be nice if you did not see at all these buildings because  – certainly the pig arc – they are monstrosities.”

Planning chief David Marno confirmed that the council’s conditions will require the planting of indigenous trees and shrubs to “hide” the new structures on the hill.

However, councillors raised concerns that attempts to camouflage the development would only serve to attract more unwanted attention to it.

They also asked for reassurances that the shipping container at Margaret Haes Riding Centre, which is being used as an administrative office, will be altered so that its appearance is agreeable to the conservation area it sits in.

The container will be moved approximately 10 metres west and its exterior will be re-clad entirely with timber boarding and a grey roof, the conditions dictate.

But Ramsbottom councillor Ian Schofield said he still could not support it.

He said: “It doesn’t matter how you dress it up really, it’s still a shipping container. It just doesn’t fit in to the locality. It doesn’t matter how you dress it up, it will still look out of place as far as I’m concerned.”

Both applications were approved by the planning committee at a virtual meeting held via video conference by six votes to two for the farm buildings and six votes to four for the shipping container.