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Green belt land with Grade II listed historic park in Bolton under threat from development

Photo shows the greenfields that will be developed, from a footpath that currently crosses the application site, facing towards Atherton, Wigan Photo shows the greenfields that will be developed, from a footpath that currently crosses the application site, facing towards Atherton, Wigan Photo: © Jackie Copley

CPRE recommends refusal of a planning application for a major golf and housing development on land in designated Green Belt, in the area of Over Hulton, Bolton, Greater Manchester.

The Lancashire Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England is to recommend that Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council refuses a hybrid planning application (Ref: 00997/17) for a major golf and housing development in the Over Hulton, Bolton by Peel Holdings (Land & Property).

The application sets out ambitious plans to deliver a golf course through finance associated with an enabling residential development (1,036 dwellings – not a single affordable one) on land that would otherwise be restricted by Green Belt designation.

The site boundary includes 179.5 hectares of productive farmland, and 88.5 hectares of woodland and Hulton Park Grade II listed Registered Park and Garden designed by famous garden designer Emes (1929 – 1803), and the rarity of this type of landscape in the North West of England.

CPRE Lancashire will explain to decision makers how the purported benefit is outweighed by the harm. The development would harm important Green Belt purposes and cause distinct places of Bolton and Wigan to merge. The location is unsustainable due to a range of adverse issues including loss of farmland, impact on important ecology, further traffic congestion - particularly at the M61/M60 motorway junction, and known flood risks.

Furthermore the integrity of the original Emes garden design will be ruined, with more than a million tonnes of earth works proposed to create fairways, greens, water features, bunkers, buggy tracks, clubhouse shops, restaurant, hotel and conference centre with extensive car parking. As well as the historic landscape not surviving, there are other adverse impacts that must be fully considered.

The residential development is proposed on 56.03ha of land at three areas (Western Fields, Deardens Farm, Park End Farm). Without the 1,036 houses the developers say the golf course development in not viable, and they claim because of the viability issues they will not provide any affordable houses.

Building houses in the Green Belt is entirely against stated national, sub-regional (emerging in the form of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework) and local plan policies.

There is already a range of golf courses in Bolton, and others in close proximity in neighbouring areas. In nearby Trafford, the Council is disposing of the 18-hole William Wroe Golf Course due to viability issues.

CPRE also recommends that the Public Rights of Way should be upgraded and enhanced by the developer, but not closed/re-routed around a private, inaccessible site, as part of the new ‘Hulton Trail.’

Jackie Copley, Planning Manager said:

“The plans are a ‘Trojan Horse’, presenting an option for heritage restoration when in fact a golf course will harm the historic landscape of noted importance. The housing plans are completely imbalanced and prohibited in designated Green Belt, and what is worse not a single affordable home would be built. We believe another more viable option should be examined to restore the Park and Gardens to its original purpose for future benefit by all.”


Hybrid Planning Application:

PART A: FULL PLANNING APPLICATION FOR RESTORATION WORKS TO HULTON PARK AND EXISTING STRUCTURES & HERITAGE ASSETS WITHIN IT INCLUDING THE PLEASURE GROUNDS, DOVECOTE, WALLED GARDEN AND LAKES, AND DEVELOPMENT OF AN 18-HOLE GOLF COURSE & CLUBHOUSE-; GOLF ACADEMY INCLUDING DRIVING RANGE, PRACTICE COURSE, ADVENTURE COURSE & ACADEMY BUILDING WITH SPORTS & LEARNING FACILITIES, SHOP & CAFE; 142 BED HOTEL WITH ADJOINING SPA & CONFERENCE FACILITY; OTHER ANCILLARY BUILDINGS, STRUCTURES & ENGINEERING & LANDSCAPE WORKS INCLUDING A MAINTENANCE BUILDING, HALFWAY HOUSE, HIGHWAY ACCESSES, UNDERPASS, VARIOUS BRIDGES, BOUNDARY TREATMENTS, INTERNAL ACCESS ROADS, EXTERNAL LIGHTING, PARKING, LANDSCAPING; DEMOLITION OF EXISTING BUILDINGS/STRUCTURES; & WHERE APPLICABLE THE RE-ROUTING, UPGRADING AND EXTENSION OF THE PUBLIC RIGHT OF WAY NETWORK

PART B: OUTLINE PLANNING APPLICATION FOR THE RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT OF UP TO 1036NO. DWELLINGS, A LOCAL CENTRE (CLASS A1/A2/A3/A4/A5/D1) AND WHERE APPLICABLE RE-ROUTING, UPGRADING AND EXTENSION OF PUBLIC RIGHT OF WAY NETWORK (ALL MATTERS RESERVED EXCEPT FOR (IN PART) HIGHWAYS) | LAND AT AND ADJACENT TO HULTON PARK, BOLTON

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