Footballer Gary Neville has welcomed a Government decision to approve the building of his dream family home, set in an eco-friendly underground bunker.

The plans to construct the zero-carbon futuristic property on moorland between Bolton and Bury have been backed by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

< p>It was branded a "Teletubbies house" for its innovative petal-shaped design with the kitchen as the centrepiece and offshoots in the shape of a flower containing bedrooms, bathrooms, a garage, a children's play area and a swimming pool.

The application by the former Manchester United and England defender was referred to Mr Pickles because the proposed site is on greenbelt land.

Councillors in Bolton initially refused planning permission last summer but later passed a renewed application from Neville which lowered the original proposed 39-metre height of a wind turbine.

Neville, who retired from playing this season, said: "I am obviously delighted that the Secretary of State has decided to allow Bolton Council to issue its decision to grant our planning permission.

"After sensibly allowing the dust to settle, my professional team will continue their detailed design work and I can then look forward to building this exciting home."

It is understood Mr Pickles did not see the plans as a major departure from national planning guidelines.

A spokesman for Bolton Council said: "We were informed of the Secretary of State's decision yesterday and a planning decision notice was posted to the applicant confirming that planning permission has been granted."

The application, for land off Harry Fold Farm in Bolton, had attracted vociferous opposition from local campaign groups.

Last June, council planners recommended its approval – subject to Government backing – because of "its exceptionally high quality of design" and "sensitive relationship with the surrounding landscape and its neighbouring residents".

However, planning committee members ignored the report's advice and voted to refuse the application.

Accompanied by his wife Emma, Neville told the meeting at Bolton Town Hall last year that it was "an opportunity to create an important moment in Bolton" with the first home of its kind in the North West and that such schemes would be inspirational.

The main grounds of objection were the principle of building on greenbelt land, the impact on the moorland area, the visual and noise impact of the turbine, and wildlife concerns.

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