Peel says the scheme could provide a £1.6bn economic boost. Credit: via Peel L&P

Bolton ordered to pay Peel’s Hulton Park appeal costs

In a scathing decision notice, the Planning Inspectorate wrote that the council’s choice to reject the £250m mixed-use project was “unreasonable, irrational, and injudicious to the extent that no reasonable authority would have made it”.

The exact amount of costs to be paid by the council has not been decided.

The decision comes after the Planning Inspectorate’s ruling in October to overturn the council’s near-unanimous refusal of Hulton Park.

Peel’s plans for the 880-acre site include the construction of a Ryder Cup-standard golf course, more than 1,000 homes, a primary school, and various retail and leisure facilities.

Most of the scheme sits within Green Belt, which had been one of the reasons for Bolton Council’s rejection of the planning application in February – a move that was contrary to the recommendation of the authority’s planning officers.

The refusal of the application came as a surprise, as Peel already had planning permission for another version of the project – which it had also won at appeal, although this time in 2020. The newer version had reduced the impact on Green Belt as well as the number of homes to be built.

When it came to the appeal, Bolton Council opted to not defend its decision at the inquiry. Fellow objector and protest group Hulton Estates Area Residents Together withdrew its involvement as well.

The inspectorate echoed its 2020 decision, approving Peel’s application and noting that the benefits of the project “are of such magnitude that they clearly outweigh the identified Green Belt and non-Green Belt harms”.

A spokesperson for Bolton Council said the authority was disappointed in the decision to award costs, noting that the council had not contested the appeal. Peel had also not made any requests for a cost award.

“We appreciate that Peel has no choice but to accept the award of costs,” the spokesperson said. “We will now work to settle the amount.”

Richard Knight, director for planning and strategy at Peel, said: “We have received the inspector’s decision and are considering the content of it and will discuss matters with the council in due course.”

The Hulton Park appeal’s reference number with the Planning Inspectorate is APP/N4205/W/22/3299644.

The reference number for the planning application with Bolton Council is 12218/21.

Your Comments

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Will Bolton MBC get their money back if Peel never build the golf course??

By Sam Ryder

Once told by an developer from the South East that every time they were awarded costs, they bought a minibus for a local charity and got it liveried up, so those who involved would be periodically remembered of their decision… but good was done!

By Anonymous

The stupidity of this Council over this matter knows no bounds! I hope Peel take them to the cleaners and that this Council has learnt a very hard lesson.

By Anonymous

Yet another spaffing of ratepayer’s money on silly caprices of local counsellors

By Concerned citizen

Serious questions should be asked of the people at these councils making these decisions, as it is either incompetence or ulterior motives driving them. Either way it is about to cost the public a lot of money, money they keep telling us there isn’t enough of to cover basic services.

By Bob

It’s all about traffic, that’s the only reason for turning it down

By Dan

The issue lies with the cllrs and the system. Clearly the planning department knew it was a sound application. However cllrs want votes and to do this they need to keep on the side of local residents hence why they voted it down,


That’s about as bad as it gets and it serves those members right. It wont come out of their pockets though!

By Anonymous

Disgusting that the council have to pay costs. Goes to.prove that developers get their own way even when public opinion is against the development. Its not the only one in Westhoughton. All the green belt is being built on. Don’t need a golf course and more houses. Peel are building houses on 2 other golf courses around Westhoughton. It’s all about Peel making money and not about the open spaces and wildlife that will be lost. Westhoughton is becoming one giant housing estate with no infrastructure to support it.

By Anonymous

Seems the council never learn anybody remember the Birtenshaw Farm fiasco of the 80’s / 90’s .developer awarded significant costs !!

By Anonymous

MJ is spot on. The Local Authority committee decision making process has an intrinsic flaw “baked” into it that creates these situations. Local Members want to be seen to champion their constituents and vote on applications depending how they feel. Sometimes this creates a situation such as this one where the Planning Officers have to recommend approval as the Application has merit, putting the Members in a tough spot as they know they have to vote against it to keep their seat. This ends up costing all Locals as they end up footing the bill. The thing that annoys me most is no one challenges the Members about it when they are up for re-election. A few well worded queries from a LDR such as “We know you believe the closing of the local library is a bad thing but do you think the funds in this cost award might have helped the LA save it?”

By Mis Manager

This feels very performative – local politicians relying on the planning inspectorate to make politically difficult decisions for them at taxpayers expense.

By Rich X

HEART (Hulton Estate Area Residents Together) Group has a lot to answer for, Pressures from the group is the reason the council rejected this planning application and now us Taxpayers have to foot the bill due to NIMBYism.

By New Wave

This is precisely what’s wrong with the planning system. Local Councillors making decisions on huge, and important schemes, and the Inspectorate demonstrating precisely why that shouldn’t happen.

By Junior

Great and entirely reasonable decision from the Inspector. The Planning Committee need to be held to account for their flawed decision making. Hopefully this encourages them to listen to the advice of their officers in future.

By A Planning Consultant

It’s on Green Belt – but bolshy developers, like Peel, simply want an easy project to create extensive profits, whilst all those around the development(s) have to live with the consequences and compromise of their area, whilst the developer walk away with the profits.

By Anon

Does the Bolton area really need a new golf course though, Hart Common looks a fine one to me, there are also others in the vicinity and some may close because of this, however the councillors backed the wrong horse here and should have known the outcome.

By Anonymous

Some people seem to be saying that whatever developers want to do is absolutely fine. Developers can destroy an area, ruin Grade ll listed land and its all ok. As long as a developer wins its OK. Well, your wrong on so many points. Stop being so selfish and think of the bigger picture. If developers win would you want them to have free reign to do anything they want. Life is not all about lining the pockets of people who are filthy rich to start with. What developers do affect people, lives, animals and communities. They need stopping but some people are too weak to stand up for what they believe in. Peel said at the Public Inquiry they did not want costs so lets see if they keep their word.

By Anonymous

Anonymous at 10:05am is spot on…..Westhoughton cannot take an further development. And we all know that when Peel don’t get the Ryder Cup that they will make the case for filling the whole place with houses and warehousing.

By Tired Resident

Peel are an absolute disgrace and so is the Planning Inspector. Bolton don’t want it and now we have to pay yet again

By Stephanie Williams

Much of the green belt isn’t in fact luscious green land at all. This needs to be recognised. As soon as people hear “green belt” they see fields and hills. I don’t know the details of this scheme and it may be detrimental in that way, but I think there should be another level between green and brownfield sites.

By Dan

I agree with Dan. Greenbelt does not always mean Ullswater. The Greenbelt Gestapo in Bury, seem to think a field next to a main road is not worthy of sensitive housing.

By Elephant

This demonstrates why local politicians need to be taken out of the decision-making process. Time to look at a new model, where Planning Committees are made up of independent technical experts rather than Cllrs. Decisions will then be made on merit, rather than politics.

A similar system operates in some jurisdictions in Australia and works well – better decision-making and less corruption. ‘Planning panels’ are made up of 3 independant technical experts and 1 community representative to represent local views.

Cllrs would still have involvement in plan making, which is critical to the planning process. They would also still have the ability to call-in applications to be heard by the Committee, but would be taken out of direct decision-making on planning applications.

By Anonymous


By ikey

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