The golf club cited falling membership as a reason to reduce the course. Credit: planning documents

Anwyl loses Widnes appeal

Housebuilder Anwyl Homes Lancashire had sought to build 233 homes at Widnes Golf Club, in a plan that would have reduced the venue to a nine-hole course.

The plans, which had come up against stiff opposition locally, ultimately lost out due to the impact on the surrounding area, and the loss of a full-scale golf facility.

Halton Council’s development management committee turned down an initial application from Anwyl Homes Lancashire and its partner, the club itself, for the 62-acre site in March 2021, with that first proposal including 249 homes.

This was refused on four grounds: loss of greenspace without providing adequate evidence of low demand for an 18-hole course, impact on highways, flood risk, and the loss of a significant amount of trees.

Plans were then redrawn and submitted in summer 2021, with a 233-home plan retaining the same volume of affordable homes, at 60 dwellings.

The reworked plans appeared on the agenda for Halton’s DMC in December, by which time the partners had appealed on grounds of non-determination, this appeal replacing an earlier bid to have the 249-home decision overturned.

The main issues in the case, as set out by planning inspector Rory Cridland, were four-fold: whether the site is acceptable for development, given its current use; the effect on the character and appearance of the surrounding area, including protected trees; the effect of development on highway safety; and the effect on flood risk and drainage.

Of these, the appellants came up short on the first two points, and this was enough to block the scheme.

The fact that Halton Council, over the course of the inquiry, adopted the Halton Delivery and Allocations Local Plan 2022 also came into play, with the inspector considering the proposal against the plan’s policies.

The inspector was not convinced that the appellants had done enough to prove the lack of demand for an 18-hole course: while noting the proposed replacement of clubhouse and other facilities would be an improvement, he said that was outweighed by the main issue, the loss of holes.

On the next point, the inspector also agreed with Halton Council that development would negatively impact on existing trees and erode local distinctiveness and “be materially harmful to the character of this area of Widnes”.

In terms of flood and drainage and the highways question, the inspector’s view was that although there were issues in these areas, solutions could be found if necessary.

Barton Willmore advised the partnership on planning. Eddisons, Ironside Farrar, Weetwood, Redmore Environmental and TPM Landscape were also on the professional team.

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Absolutely ridiculous hope the council are proud of themselves. Total nonsense. I hope they are proud of themselves if the club goes bust and its left to go to ruin.

By Shirley Payne

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