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For the past three weeks, the Hulton Park Public Inquiry has been taking place in Bolton. 

CPRE Lancashire fielded Dr Des Brennan as CPRE Lancashire’s representative at the public speaker session on Thursday 10th October 2019.  He gave an excellent, considered and detailed representation concerning the s106 Agreement, which has since been updated, and is now watertight on the issue of no commencement of ALL and ANY development to the proposal site before it is certain that Peel’s bid to host a Ryder Cup tournament has been successful.  

For the avoidance of doubt, we are strongly opposed to the development proposed by Peel were its bid to host at first the 2026 and subsequently the 2030 and/or 2034 Ryder Cup tournament at Hulton Park be successful. The development would consist of an 18-hole championship golf resort and clubhouse, a golf Academy (comprising a driving range, a practice course, an adventure course, and an Academy building), a hotel (with adjoining spa and conference facility) and miscellaneous other structures; it would also include an enabling development of more than 1,000 homes in the Green Belt.  We objected to the original application, and wrote to the Secretary of State requesting a “call in” of the decision when Bolton Council decided it was minded to approve the application by the narrow vote of 8 to 7 members.  The elections in May altered the make-up of the Council, and Peel requested bids for the 2030 and/or 2034 Ryder Cup tournament, following Adare Manor being awarded the 2026 event, yet the Council decision was not revisited. 

Peel had some eleven professional witnesses covering all topics, and the supporting information comprised approximately 1,000 Inquiry documents.

The local residents who spoke at the Inquiry gave frank and impassioned representations of why the development would if approved adversely impact on them and their local community.  Elaine Taylor of Lancashire Gardens Trust referred to the Park as a ‘sleeping giant’ and emphasised the ‘art’ of the ‘designed’ pleasure grounds, serpentine lake and other Emes features.  The loss of Dearden’s Farm, a three generation farm and now local hub for the community with its café and farm shop was highlighted as a particular loss, as would be the farm diversification business being run by the farmer and his daughters.  

Two constituency MPs (one Conservative, one Labour), and each of the ward local councillors spoke out about how inequitable the proposals would be. There was a general distrust of Peel, the strategic investment company, when its previous proposals to convert its golf courses elsewhere in the City-Region into residential developments were laid bare.  Only one single representation was made in support of the proposal and this was from Gary Cook, former CEO of Manchester City, and now an independent Sports Consultant with connections to Peel. 

CPRE Lancashire, in support of HEART (the local community action group opposing the application and which hasRule 6 status), contracted out Ms Jackie Copley our Planning Manager on a consultancy basis to act as an independent planning witness.  

HEART witness, Mr Chris Gallagher, Historic Landscape Consultant, gave a solid account of why the Register Park and Garden would be substantially harmed (in National Planning Policy Framework and National Planning Practice Guidance terms) by the introduction of golf features across the historic landscape designed by famous landscapers and improvers William Emes and John Webb.  Ms Copley focused on the planning policy conflicts at the local and national level.  She showed that the benefits (comprising a “one-off” large tournament, and some related economic growth focused predominantly outside of the Bolton area) would be far outweighed in the planning balance by the harms done to the Green Belt and the heritage assets.  Both Mr Gallagher and Ms Copley stood their ground when they came under fire during the cross-examination by Peel’s barrister, Russell Harris QC, and the Council’s barrister, Matthew Dale Harris.  

Mr Peter Dixon, Barrister, who led the HEART case, summarised for the Inspector, whose task is to report and make a recommendation to the Secretary of State, why the very special circumstances required to justify development in the Green Belt had not been demonstrated and therefore the application should be refused. 

HEART was congratulated on its professionalism and courtesy throughout the Inquiry.

CPRE Lancashire earnestly hopes its voice, and that of HEART, in making their substantive representations to the Inspector, will be heard by the Secretary of State and enable a refusal of Peel’s application.  

This Inquiry sitting days finished in the same week CPRE’s National Office published its Space to breath – A State of the Green Belt report.  The report identifies the benefits of Green Belt for public access, food production and protecting openness.  The research highlights the failure of Green Belt development to contribute much needed rural affordable housing, and calls for more prioritisation of a true brownfield first approach. 

See here for details:

Published in Current news
Monday, 14 October 2019 14:51

Space to breathe

CPRE's research into the state of our Green Belts highlights unprecedented threats to Green Belt land at a time when land that can act as a green lung around the edge of our cities has never been more important. 

Published in Current news

Join us on our Autumn Green Belt walk to experience the green spaces on your doorstep in South Manchester, and to find out more about the vital role that the Green Belt plays.

Published in Current events
Wednesday, 20 February 2019 15:14

Successful campaigning saves Green Belt!

CPRE Lancashire and its West Lancashire District Group, with the support of some parish councils and local groups commissioned Piers Elias, an expert demographer who reviewed the proposed housing figures.  The CPRE response with the demographic appraisal report appended, evidenced how jobs growth and housing numbers were flawed and wrongly inflated. 

Published in Green Belts

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. 

Published in Current news

CPRE Cheshire and Lancashire are united with local residents' groups in battling plans by St Helens Council for a road linking vast swathes of countryside and the former Parkside Colliery site. 

Published in Current news

CPRE Lancashire is looking forward to seeing the ‘radical rewrite’ of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework if approved at the Combined Authority meeting on Friday 11th January 2019, based on the announcement by Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester Mayor.

Published in Current news

CPRE Lancashire is looking forward to seeing the ‘radical rewrite’ of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework if approved at the Combined Authority meeting on Friday 11th January 2019, based on the announcement by Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester Mayor.

Published in Planning

Peel Holdings' planning application for an exclusive golf course and executive home development on farmland in protected Green Belt was approved by Bolton Council but the decision has been called-in for the taking by the Secretary of State after a request from CPRE Lancashire and other local objectors.

Published in Update

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.

Published in Update
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