Hoylake Golf Course

Businesses back Hoylake as councillors call to stop £200m resort

Charlie Schouten

An extraordinary Wirral Council meeting will see different sides face off over the proposed £200m Celtic Manor and Jack Nicklaus resort at Hoylake, while a number of local business leaders have signalled their backing for the project.

The project, including a Celtic Manor-branded hotel, spa, and conference facilities as well as a championship golf course and 18-hole range, was first put forward in November 2016. Since then, Wirral Council has agreed to back the scheme with prudential borrowing of £26m, along with £600,000 to support geotechnical surveys.

Wirral Council signed a development agreement with developer NJVG the same month, with the council spending £600,000 on geotechnical reports and surveys to support the project.

However, it has come in for criticism from campaigners and councillors, with Cllrs Alan Brame and Pat Cleary putting forward a motion for debate at a council meeting in December.

An extraordinary council meeting has now been called for Monday 25 February with two motions against the proposed development: one from Cllrs Chris Blakeley and Gerry Ellis; and another from Cllrs Phil Gilchrist and Brame.

Blakeley and Ellis’ motion argues that while the council “does not have the power to demand or force the cabinet to drop this unwanted scheme in its entirety,” it should withdraw its support for the project based on “uncertainty, the massive public opposition, the financial risks to the taxpayer, and the harm that would be caused to Wirral’s green belt”.

Similarly, Gilchrist and Brame’s motion, titled “putting Wirral’s needs first instead of pipe dreams”, claimed it was “no longer reasonable to put stretched managerial and officer capacity into this golf resort project”.

The motion added: “Council remains concerned that this speculative development is still being put forward based on assumptions that no longer appear relevant at a time of economic uncertainty, growing concern about development in the green belt and greater recognition of the importance of ensuring future food supply in a period of climate change.”

A rival motion, put forward by council leader Phil Davies and Cllr Angie Davies, has come out in favour of the development. This said: “Council notes the concerns which have been expressed about the proposed Celtic Manor Resort in Hoylake.

“Council also notes the potential financial and economic benefits of the proposed scheme: including 300 jobs, apprenticeship opportunities, up to £40m in one-off payments and £1m to the Council in increased revenue every year to be invested in public services.

“Council believes it would be inappropriate to make a decision on this scheme before we have the full facts. We have only recently – within days – received the funding proposal from the developer, which is now under review.

“Council further believes it is important to review the details of the various feasibility studies which will assess the environmental and economic impact of the scheme and believes residents should be consulted on these details as part of a robust planning application.

“Council therefore agrees to ask for the relevant scrutiny committee to hold a special meeting to consider all aspects of the scheme once negotiations have reached a point where a clear proposition can be placed before members.”

The latter motion has been supported by a number of local businesses, which have signalled their backing for the Hoylake project.

These include Paul Askew, chairman of the Wirral Visitor Economy Board; Hoylake-based JD Engineering; UTS Gym, which overlooks the proposed site; and BT Local Business, which is based in Wirral.

Askew argued: “In terms of the borough’s future growth and tourism strategy, the Hoylake resort is an extremely positive move. It is an opportunity to welcome a new era to Wirral and one which we simply cannot afford to let pass us by.

“The resort will of course fly the flag for sport, but it will also create a world-class destination for businesses and tourists, which is something that we’re in desperate need of in order to keep moving forward.”

Earlier this month, NJVG’s Jim Anderson told Place North West the resort was “ready to go”, with the planning process due to get under way in the coming weeks.

Over the next 12 months during the environmental assessment impact process, the developer is also due to hold public consultation on the plans, before submitting an application around March 2020, with a start on site later in the spring or early summer, subject to planning approval.

Anderson added the scheme was “fully funded” with an aim to “start work the next day” if planning permission is secured.

Willmott Dixon has already been chosen as preferred contractor to build the Celtic Manor resort and the golf’s clubhouse. Other consultants working on the scheme include Hydrock and Grant Thornton. One of the site’s golf courses will be personally designed by Jack Nicklaus, with the other brought forward by Nicklaus Design Group.

Your Comments

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I think this looks a good development. However, I am not a Hoylake resident so it would’ve interesting to hear their thoughts. The land it is being built on is not all that nice, though obviously still green space.

By Chris

Wirral is a beautiful part of England. It needs promoting on its own merits and not as an extension of Liverpool.

By Anonymous

If it has the same impact as the Celtic Manor in Wales, then it would be a real economic benefit. But some posters write on this site about nothing happening in Wirral and its all Liverpool? Liverpool has not be mentioned its all about the Wirral and if it genuinely good why not?

By WM7

Wirral needs this sort of economic development unless it wants to just be a dormitory suburb. Inevitably nimbys in nice houses try to make out their own selfish interests of keeping property prices up by limiting development are somehow altruistic. Wirral needs this sort of development on its own terms and as part of a developing City Region.

By SP

Wirral needs help. Yes its a nice place, and people say oh I live on the Wirral. But there are no jobs! I was astounded as there seems to be this attitude that the Wirral is better – they need employment.

By Bob Dawson

how much capital is the Council investing in this scheme, that is what is not clear to me? £600k from Council already.
It appears a positive scheme for the Wirral overall, creating new business for hotels and increased visitor numbers etc. But surely the tax payer should not be funding a private golf course for the wealthy, even if there are spin off benefits. Such a scheme should be funded by private sector.

By propstochezzo

The Wirral would be better by far, if it was to leave Merseyside and the LCR altogether. A Merseyside free Wirral.

By 2020

@2020 Never going to happen unless the river itself decides to move how do you expect to remove geography. I despair at some of the attitudes people have this side of the water. The majority of the settlements on the peninsula came to be because of the growth of Liverpool in the first place. This side of the water can not even sustain enough jobs for the boroughs population hence why the trains are always busy during rush hour heading to the city center. The attitude is somewhat similar to those who voted for Brexit in that they don’t have a plan post Brexit.

By Birkenhead

What are certain posters complaining about Liverpool for?This has nothing to do with Liverpool. Can they not differentiate between a Wirral project and ones that are not. Really they are just moaners and need to think before they post.
It really does show how ill informed they are. I can imagine the furore if this was planned for Liverpool and not elsewhere,in fact why not create it here and give us the benefits and jobs.

By Brick up the Tunnels!

I live on the Wirral and think it needs greater links with Liverpool, not less, if it is to thrive. Ideally, both banks of the Mersey should act as one large city. This is largely the thinking behind Wirral and Liverpool Waters. This would help with jobs and growth.

By Chris

Councillors grandstanding as usual.

By P

I live in West Kirby, the neighboring town and this resort will only benefit the ‘sleepyville’ that is Hoylake. Hoylake is great, and when the golf comes to town, the place is booming. But the rest of the time it is nothing but a ‘cut through’ for most people to get to West Kirby, which is the main seaside town. Most people are all for it.

By Leon Kearney

I`ve never understood why they names a Wirral golf club as The Royal Liverpool. It`s not actually in Liverpool.

By Heswall

@Heswall – Get a grip its all about the branding Liverpool is a better brand than Hoylake. All you do on here is comment and moan about Liverpool why do you hate the place you live in so much.

By Birkenhead

Royal Liverpool became Royal Liverpool in 1871 when it was given the honour by Queen Victoria’s son the Duke if Connacht. Liverpool, stretching onto the Wirral and well up the Sefton coast has functioned as a city region since the early 19th century at least. There are Liverpool founded institutions throughout this area in places like Neston and Crosby for example, not to mention all the houses and estates developed by Liverpool merchants. Royal Liverpool was founded at Hoylake in 1869 on the grounds if the Liverpool Hunt Club.

By Roscoe

I am fed up with Heswall receiving all the attention here, what about Lower Heswall we deserve our platform too.

By Beachcomber

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