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Bolton Council urged to reconsider ‘game changed’ golf proposal

Thursday, 13 June 2019 13:08

CPRE Lancashire has responded to extra documents submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by Peel Holdings, regarding Peel's application for housing and a golf course at Hulton Park.  The Secretary of State, after calls by CPRE Lancashire and others, viewed the proposal as a significant matter for a ‘call-in’ for his own determination. 

 Peel, claiming the ‘call-in’ as a reason, now seeks to bring forward its development in association with Ryder Cup bids for 2026, and also for 2030 and 2034.  The application to develop over 1,000 homes, inappropriate in the Green Belt, and a golf course that will harm the site of a registered Grade II listed heritage park and garden remains broadly the same, but applying for later dates, alters the premise upon which a decision can be determined, as a 4 and 8 year delay would risk purported benefits, and cause many more negative factors. 

 Peel Holdings' plan

What would be substantially changed is the ability of Bolton Council to properly plan for housing delivery.  The financial viability of the development, and indeed the case for ‘very special circumstances’ to develop inappropriate development in the Green Belt is much more suspect now, and the key document that is missing from the public domain is an updated Viability Assessment, which CPRE Lancashire asked to be provided without any unnecessary delay. 

In the scenarios set out in the updated information being consulted upon, in excess of 200 homes would be built before the 2026 bid outcome is known, in excess of 400 homes built before the 2030 bid outcome is known and in excess of 600 homes before the 2034 bid outcome is known.  The timing of the bids to trigger very special circumstances is at odds with the phasing of the enabling development.  It was certainly not the intention of Bolton Council that development of housing would commence ‘in advance’ of a successful outcome of the Ryder Cup bid.  They included a condition that a spade should not touch the ground until after the outcome of the bid as successful is known.  In essence, the enabling development cannot commence prior to the outcome of a successful bid being known, which triggers the ‘very special circumstances’.   

In any event, CPRE Lancashire does not accept that the application can demonstrate very special circumstances to build houses in the Green Belt by delivering a one-off Ryder Cup tournament.  The coach and car parks would be required for housing in the future.  The negative impacts, for what would ultimately become an ordinary golf course, outweighs the positives in this case.

Locally the Hulton Estate Area Residents Together (HEART), with Members of Parliament, are vociferously opposed due to the harm to the habitat and wildlife, loss of ancient and veteran woodland and open green space, and they will not support a bid.  Jackie Copley, Planning Manager has been commissioned by HEART as a planning witness at the Public Inquiry scheduled to commence on 1 October 2019, sitting for three weeks.  A pre-inquiry meeting took place on 11 June to set out the running of the inquiry, when the Inspector asked the updated viability assessment to be made available by 6th August for scrutiny.  For more information see PINS ref: APP/N4205/V/18/3208426 (LPA ref. 00997/17). 

 CPRE Lancashire previously applauded the Secretary of State's decision to call in the application: read more here.

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