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CPRE Lancashire is pleased that the Secretary of State has called in Peel Holdings application for housing and golf resort in the Green Belt

CPRE Lancashire was disappointed that Bolton Council approved Peel Holdings application for a major housing development and exclusive golf resort in protected Green Belt with harm to Hulton Park Registered Park and Garden despite strong local opposition.

CPRE Lancashire, along with residents group HEART and local Members of Parliament, requested that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government call in the decision for his own taking, planning application ref: 00997/17 is for the major golf and housing development in the Over Hulton, Bolton.
 
The application sets out ambitious plans to deliver a Ryder Cup standard golf course through finance associated with an enabling residential development of 1,036 dwellings on Green Belt land. The site boundary includes 179.5 ha of productive farmland, 88.5 ha of woodland and the Grade II registered historic Hulton Park and Garden designed by famous garden designer William Eames (1729 – 1803).  Residents are up in arms at the local harm, and other charities such as Lancashire Historic Gardens Trust has strongly opposed this ill-conceived proposal. 
 
CPRE Lancashire has argued that the development enabling “a bid” to the Ryder Cup would be needed in advance of the outcome of such a bid being known.  A bid is unlikely to be successful and is outside Bolton Council’s control and as such is probably an unlawful planning condition.  The harm to the Green Belt and local heritage would be considerable, so the “very special circumstances” required to justify the proposal would not exist.
 
Contrary to the purpose of the Green Belt, the development would cause the distinct places of Over Hulton, Westhoughton and Atherton to merge and it is unsustainable on the grounds of loss of high-grade farmland, loss of special ecology, traffic congestion, and other adverse impacts.
 
In addition, the integrity of the original Eames influenced garden design would be ruined, with more than a million tonnes of earth works proposed to create fairways, greens, water features, bunkers, buggy tracks, clubhouse shops, restaurant and a hotel and conference centre with extensive car parking facilities.
 
The residential development of 1,036 houses is proposed on 56.03ha of land at three areas (Western Fields, Deardens Farm, Park End Farm). A farming family with over three generations involved on the land will lose their farm and ice-cream businesses.
 
Peel Holdings claim that the housing development is necessary in order to finance the development of the golf course and plead viability issues to justify that none of the homes would be affordable.  CPRE Lancashire believes that even if Peel were to include affordable homes, the building of houses in this Green Belt protected area would be entirely against the national, sub-regional (in the form of the emerging Greater Manchester Spatial Framework) and Local Plan policies.
 
Without prejudice to our objections to this proposal, CPRE recommends, should the proposal be approved, that the viability assessment ought to be made public as in the public interest, and that heritage assets and public rights of way should be upgraded and enhanced by the developer, but no demolition of important structures should be permitted and the routes of footpaths should not be diverted around the boundary of a private, inaccessible, site as part of the proposed new “Hulton Trail”.
 
Jackie Copley, Planning Manager said:
 
“We will attend the Planning Inquiry to highlight exactly how the plans are a ‘Trojan Horse’, seemingly presenting an option for heritage restoration when in fact the golf course re-modelling will mutilate the historic landscape of noted importance.
 
Not a single home will be affordable, which emphasises the greed of the developer.  But, in any case the housing plans are inappropriate in designated Green Belt which the Government keeps making promises to protect.  Green Belt designation means land ought to be kept permanently open and developers need to accept it is a no building zone.
 
We strongly hope that a more appropriate and viable option will be examined by Peel and Bolton Council to restore the Park and Gardens for enjoyment in the future by all and that housing will be delivered on the abundant brownfield land resources that exist nearby. One only needs to consider heritage assets such as Dunham Massey and Lyme Park to understand how important visitor destinations these places are for people.”
 
Ref: 00997/17 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

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

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