HULTON PARK Resi CGI, Peel L&P, P Peel

Peel L&P's plans for Hulton Park include more than 1,000 homes. Credit: via Peel

Bolton to pay £467,800 after losing Hulton Park appeal

Peel L&P had not sought a cost award after winning its planning appeal against the council’s refusal of its £250m mixed-used project – but the Planning Inspectorate opted to give it anyway, calling the council’s decision “unreasonable, irrational, and injudicious to the extent that no reasonable authority would have made it”.

The decision to award costs was made in November, but the exact financial figure was not known at the time. Now a council cabinet report has revealed the final bill of what Bolton Council owes Peel: £467,746.61. The funds will come from the council’s corporate reserves.

Peel’s Hulton Park plans focus on building a Ryder Cup-standard golf course, primary school, an assortment of shops and leisure facilities, and more than 1,000 homes on 880 acres by Newbrook Road in Westhoughton.

Much of the land is allocated as Green Belt, which had been one of the reasons for the council’s near-unanimous decision to refuse the project in February 2022 against officer recommendation.

The decision had come as a surprise, considering that this was the second version of a previously approved application. This newer version has less of an impact on Green Belt than the older one. Peel’s decision to appeal the refusal was therefore expected.

After consulting with its legal team, Bolton Council ultimately decided to not defend its decision at the appeal before the Planning Inspectorate. That appeal had ended in October, with the Planning Inspectorate ruling in favour of Peel.

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.

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I hope there’s some accountability for committee members!

By Anonymous

Next time any of Bolton’s Planning Committee Members talk about the Authority’s lack of ability to pay for critical services like schools, social care or homelessness I hope there is someone there to remind them of this decision and what it has cost the people who pay their Council Tax. Listen to your Officers!

By Mis-Manager

If I was a resident of Bolton I’d be absolutely fuming about the way in which committee members have acted on this. What a waste of money.

By Anonymous

Prime example of why the planning system is totally broken. Planning is the single most damaging process stopping housing delivery. Councillor petty politics clearly ends up costing the tax payer money. PNW… would be interested in an article to see across the 10 GM authorities how much ££ has been wasted on appeals process (both Council costs plus other side cost awards) over the last 5 years…

By Ian

    Noted! – J

    By Julia Hatmaker


By Derek Calrow OBE

This is pretty on brand for Bolton Council, its no wonder they have no money to redevelop the town centre.

By Jon

Bolton Council and planning department now shown not to be fit for purpose. Plans like these that refuse are being overturned on appel and are costing loc people a fortune for their failings. Without any consequences to themselveses While increasing their wages each time there is an election. We need better national policy and guidance from central government to prevent these cost in future along with consequences for those not following them.

By Brian Grimshaw

Very bold move from PINS. Very poor decision making from Bolton members! LISTEN TO YOUR OFFICERS RECCOMENDATIONS..THEY KNOW THE NPPF BETTER THAN YOU!

By Anonymous

Fully agree with the comment made by Jon. While we residents of Bolton look on with envy while our neighbours improve Bolton seems to be stuck in a rut and it’s easy to see why when such stupid decisions are made. It’s no wonder Bolton town centre is the dump that it is. How can residents trust the Council to spend the residents money with prudence when they seem so incapable of making sensible decisions. I guess it’s no surprise that very little meaningful progress is ever made on the regeneration of the town centre.

By Anonymous

But Peel said they don’t want costs??? If they don’t then why not hand it back. Give it back to the town? Albeit caveat it so the cllrs can’t use it to make more wasteful decisions!


Absolutely staggering that the council think this was good use of OUR money.

The planning application should have been refused first time round as it is Green Belt land, but once it had been approved, there was no conceivable way it could be refused at the second time.

By Anonymous

Every LA is using the green belt argument to refuse even if the proposal increases the biodiversity & improves ecological generally. Purely a political decision to keep their NIMBY voters onside. Let big bad central Gov’t carry the can.

By Fran

This happens all too often. I recall there is the ability to Tarrif the Counsellors where they choose to go against the Officer’s recommendations. This is not a major issue to deny the committee of its powers because costs are only awarded on appeal in exceptional circumstances ie. where the Committee has acted unreasonably or in an improper manner. The Committee members have cost the Council this money by not listening to the Officers and will ultimately deprive the local communities of important services when cuts are being made.

By Pessimist

Shame on you Peel for planning to build on green belt land.

By Anonymous

Well done bolton council you done so good,what kind of board is sat at the council that you like throwing money away

By Anonymous

It’s a timely reminder of how useless the Planning Committee system is. Leave the politics out of it and let the planners get on with their job of assessing applications against planning policy. No-one stops to question a heart surgeon when performing surgery so why allow a bunch of numpties to call into question the professionals’ judgement. I hope Bolton Council learns a lesson from this.

By Josh09

Poor VFM from Bolton Councillors who are too ill-educated and disinterested to critically appraise an application that meets exceptional circumstances in the NPPF.
Time to ditch the Planning Committee system and leave the job to the professionals.
I hope Councillors will be paying this tax on their stupidity out of their own pockets.

By Josh09

What the hell, why are we allowing fat cats to destroy green belt areas, we are suppose to be a country that appreciates the country side, wildlife and peace and quiet, how are young children of today expect to enjoy the outdoors as much as we did when we were young.
Westhoughton is a small town that now has far to many housing projects happening, it’s okay for the fat cats with big houses, big cars and a lot of land and don’t live in the area, perhaps we should build new estates there on their the back garden, outside their front door and crowd the drive ways with cars see how they like it.
LEAVE GREEN BELT ALONE!!!!!!! there are plenty of brown belt area’s around Bolton town where buildings are empty, revamp them into apartments or knock them down and build new houses there, failing that there’s over grown ground in the town that could be used.
It’s time the Government, MP’s ( no matter what party) and the likes wake up and listen to the people who put them in power, it’s time you say no instead of looking after yourselves

By Dale Withers

Hopefully the costs will be donated to a deserving cause, such as, the scout movement, after all, this was the main scout site for Bolton for many years. Alternatively, the money could be used to develop accomodation for elderly people to live independently in accommodation fit for purpose to meet their needs.

By Jacqueline

About time the system was brought back that used to exist of the District Auditor being able to personally surcharge councillors to recover losses suffered to the public purse as a result of disgraceful decisions and total incompetence like this.

By K. W.

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