Hoylake Golf Course

Calls for Wirral to halt £200m Hoylake development

Charlie Schouten

Two Wirral Councillors have called for the council to pull its support of the proposed £200m Jack Nicklaus golf resort at Hoylake, arguing the development “looks increasingly unviable”, although leader Phil Davies said the local authority continues to back the plans.

The project, including a Celtic Manor-branded hotel, spa, and conference facilities as well as a championship golf course and 18-hole range, was put forward in November 2016 by developer Nicklaus Joint Venture Group.

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

Along with the golf course development, Story Homes was on board to deliver 160 homes as part of the scheme but is understood to be no longer involved. The preferred housebuilders for the site are now Redrow and PJ Livesey, with the land earmarked as one site that could be released from the Green Belt under Wirral’s upcoming Local Plan.

Although the project has a gross development value of £200m, and was expected to create around more than 350 jobs during construction and following completion, there has been some backlash against the project from Wirral Councillors.

A motion titled “Time to end the Hoylake Golf Course development” has been put forward by Cllr Allan Brame and seconded by Cllr Pat Cleary for debate at next week’s council meeting.

The motion follows a report to cabinet last month on the future provision of the borough’s golf courses, noting a downturn in golf course usage in Wirral.

The motion due to be debated next week states: “Given this gloomy assessment of current and future demand for golf facilities, council recognises that the proposed Celtic Manor development of Hoylake Golf Course looks increasingly unviable.

“Council now concludes that the access to prudential borrowing of £26m agreed in December 2017 poses an unacceptable risk to public funds, is no longer tenable or appropriate, and therefore requests that the leader and cabinet end all further use of council taxpayers’ money to support this scheme.”

The project had been championed by leader of the council Cllr Phil Davies, but with Davies announcing he would not stand for re-election in May next year, the project could lose support at the highest level of the council.

Last December, the council insisted it would not be allocating any additional money to the project aside from the £600,000 already committed in November 2016.

A planning application was set to be submitted this year but is yet to materialise; it was hoped the 18-hole municipal golf course would open in January 2020, followed by the hotel in March 2020, and the championship course in April 2021.

It is understood much of the delay in submitting a planning application is down to the level of surveys requested by Wirral Council, which argued full ecological and environmental surveys were needed before a planning application could be submitted.

In a statement to Place North West, Davies said: “Wirral Council is encouraged by recent progress from the developers behind the Hoylake Golf Resort. Celtic Manor – confirmed as the hotel, leisure and golf operator – are looking at Hoylake as the location of their first luxury leisure resort in the north, a scheme forecast to create hundreds of new jobs, attract thousands of visitors and millions of pounds of investment to Wirral.

“It is now for the joint venture between Celtic Manor, the Jack Nicklaus group and their partners to bring forward their plans and funding arrangements. Wirral Council remains supportive of this scheme to create a world class leisure destination in Hoylake and looks forward to the plans being presented for consultation so residents and businesses can have their say.

“As a local authority impacted by budget cuts and austerity, we are always interested in innovative and entrepreneurial ways to bring money into the borough to keep our frontline services going.  Celtic Manor’s proposed Hoylake development is one of those ideas. As well as welcoming a blue-chip, globally-renowned organisation to our borough, we should also look carefully at opportunities to become a potential investor in the scheme to further benefit the residents of Wirral.”

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At what point is Wirral going to become one giant golf course? We need less land for the rich to play on, and more land for our poorest communities to live on.

By WirralRes

A very expensive ego trip for the Council. How much has already been spent on surveys, consultants, Council staff time and such – money that should have been used to alleviate hardship on Wirral.

By DerekW

It;s a pity if the new jobs and homes don’t materialise,lets hope a compromise can be achieved?

By WM7

This was an ill-fated idea from the beginning, a total waste of money which should have stopped at the Capita Symonds report in 2006. Yet the Council leadership continued to plough on in full Ostrich mode, convinced their biggest obstacle – removing the proposed land from the Greenbelt – would be a walk in the park (the green?) I dare say they saw a ray of hope when the Council’s Planning Committee approved the ‘very special circumstances’ to build a new fire station on the Greenbelt at Saughall Massie, when none of the Labour Councillors on that Planning Committee had the spines to dare question the Fire Service’s estimated response times, which remain to this day as hypothetical, never yet tested in the real world. But with such toothless Councillors unwilling to ‘rock the boat’ with the Fire Service, it is little wonder why the Council leadership have faith in their subservient flock of impotent supporters to blindly make decisions on the future of Wirral’s green & pleasant acres.

The final statement from Davies on this article is the same old corporate, buzzword driven soundbites he’s been peddling for years as he swims against the tide of opinion. If you’re looking for a fantastic example of deluded self-belief, look no further than the instigators of this toxic chalice of nothingness.

By thedrumdoctor

This is just a scam to build expensive housing on greenbelt land, farmland. Wirral already has a surplus of golf courses and really doesn’t need another.

By N Hogan

It’s incredible that in these times of continual cut’s in Council Services, that Wirral Borough Council can spend over half a million pounds aiding a private development, that the vast majority of Wirral Tax Payers will not be able to afford.
Couple that with the revelation that WBC paid a consultant £900 per day, totalling £250,000 that’s nearly one million pounds wasted with absolutely nothing to show for it except vauge promises of jam tomorrow.

By Hoover

Despite overwhelming objections by people living close to the proposed site (as witnessed at various meetings) Phil Davies persists with this unwanted, not needed and unnecessary vanity project. His welcome impending departure must also see the abandonment of this proposal to swallow up open land in the already overcrowded north west Wirral. The existing golf courses are much underused for this niche pass-time.

By MJS

Its about time that this council started listening to the people of Wirral. So far 25000+ have signed petitions AGAINST this golf course and building on Wirral’s Green Belt. And more and more are joining the cause!
We have 14 golf courses on the Wirral and it is well known that this sport is losing membership each year and they are struggling financially. To bring in outside companies to run the golf courses, which will fail, is only a guise for this council to then use the land to build on when they fail, as they will retain ownership of the land!
The £27 million they intend to borrow for this venture on top of the £600,000 they have already spent consultants could be put to better use for the Social Services.
This is no more than an ego trip for certain members when they should be more concerned with getting people of the streets and into Social Housing and building affordable houses to help young people achieve their own home.
When will this council start working for the people of the Wirral!!!!!

By Les Harris

Out come the nimbys worrying about their house prices by anything whatsoever happening near them. God forbid more suburbs getting built in the suburbs, risking their own comfortable dreams by allowing other people the chance to live there. The golf resort sounds like a good way of generating revenue to pay for Council services the Govt won’t support anymore.

By SP

Out comes the same old “NIMBY” insult! If being someone who is concerned about my community and the environment makes me a NIMBY, then I am proud to be one! I’m not in the least bothered about my house prices. Im more concerned about the dreadful effect that this monstrosity will have on the lives of all the people of Wirral. Im concerned about the increased traffic and pollution – including the years of chaos when they build the resort – potentially hundreds of 1000s of wagon loads of fill, being trucked in to raise the luxury houses above the flood plain. Im concerned about the effect that building on the flood plain will have on the rest of the Birkett Valley and how it will increase flood risk in Moreton – a place which already suffers from repeated flooding. Im concerned about the irrepairable damage to our wildlife. Im concerned that this resort will just be a “white elephant” for a sport that is rapidly declining and will set a precedent for building on our green belt – we need the green belt to mitigate against impending climate catastrophe. Have you not seen the news reports this week – did you think that when David Attenborough was calling for URGENT action he was referring to everywhere else except the Wirral?? And Im concerned that our Council is proposing to spend millions of our money on a resort that the majority dont want or need, when they say they have no money to spend on affordable homes or to regenerate areas that really need it such as Birkenhead and New Ferry. Is it really a good way to bring in Council Tax Revenue – just imagine how much more of a return they would get if they invested the £17million, that they plan to spend on the roads, on infrastructure for Wirral Waters? It could transform our derelict docklands – making it a world class community and a destination for everyone – not just a few golfers and the millionaires who will live in the houses. The developer has a history of bankruptcy, REDROW has a terrible record for building on flood plains. Wake up, people! This resort is nothing but a big CON!!

By CH48

The Capita Symonds report in 2006. condemned the idea of building a ‘golf resort’ ( to circumvent planning law) on valuable farmland, on a vastly diminished Green belt and a floodplain to boot, a fig leaf for the attendant luxury houses it plans to build to bring in big bucks for WBC. 14 years later, and having spent in excess of 1.5 m on feasability studies and consultation exercises, Council are still throwing dirty money at it and will now be busy trying to reclassify Green Belt as Brownfield in order to push it through. The 16k feasability study on the ‘link road’ was carried out by Amey, who have removed over 6000 of Sheffield’s trees and are contracted to remove 17,500 over the contract period to the tune of 2.2bn. Why should taxpayers fund the butchery of their trees, a public liability money making scam going on up and down the UK as I write, and the demise of what is left of their environment, their wildlife, their land and their Wirral? I care about our environment, as do most of us .We are not prepared to fund our own destruction.

Ordinary people are not nimbys they are niabys-not in anyone’s back yard. I rather think, on the contrary, that ‘the lady doth protest too much’ and that those who accuse us of nimbyism would be the last to give up their own back yard or green space to developers.So far 25000+ have signed petitions AGAINST this golf course and AGAINST building on Wirral’s Green Belt. And more and more are joining us day by day. LS fortreeswirral@gmail.com

By Louise Stothard

Everyone who cares about the green spaces of Wirral should be contacting their 3 local Councillors and asking them to vote in favour of the motion to abandon the golf resort idea which the vast majority of Wirral residents do not want. This really isn’t about nimbyism, it is about caring for the environment for our children and children’s children.

By Green Protector

Ego trip for PHIL THE EGO DAVIES . Plans were drawn up yrs ago for trees to be planted right across Wirral . What happened to that ? Why not expand the nature reserve trees plants new pond , help the red squirrel population . I’ll gladly patrol the forest once grown killing off the grey squirrel .

By Chris

Wirral needs new infrastructure, more schools and public services, not a golf course. Put in the services that are needed before proposing these vanity projects.

Support the local residents and progress what has already been promised at Wirral Waters.

At the same time WBC are proposing to sell municipal golf courses for houses we do not need, they push forward this monstrosity within our greenbelt.

By M Thomas

This seems to be just the tip of the iceberg Wehrmacht it comes to our greenbelt, and like the Titanic the council sail on regardless towards disaster. Listen to your residents and stop now.

By Carron Jones

How ironical it is that at a time when there is a downturn in interest in golf and corresponding increase in costs, Council is attempting to dispose of its own golf courses whilst promoting, at great cost to the Tax-payers of Wirral, a golf resort.

17 years ago when golf was in demand, there was limited sense in the proposal (excepting the economic damage to Hoylake, increased road usage, increased waste disposal, environmental damage and loss of Green Belt) but with golf courses across the country being sold, there is surely every clue and hint as to which way Council should be proceeding.

Check http://www.golfcourses4sale.co.uk to see for yourselves.

Yesterday, I learned that Basingstoke golf course is to be sold for house building. If that proposed for Hoylake goes the same way, then you may look forward to 3,000 homes being built and that Garden Village, which Cllr P Davies also likes, is bigger than Hoylake.

I support any Councillor who has the courage and honesty to vote against the development.

But remember, voting on this matter is Whipped and that means Labour members will vote for the golf resort without having read the documents and without any understanding. Their vote will be blind and deaf and dumb.

Cash expenditure to date is close to one million pounds. Council does not record staff time and so does not know how much these have cost but after 17 years it must be close to £3 million. Just think how that time and money could have been spent on Adult and Children’s Services, which are in desperate need of assistance.

According to a Freedom of Information Request, Council has no fall back position to adopt should the golf resort not get Planning Permission. How can it be so sure?

This is not MIMBYISM. I, for one, do not live near to the site and will never be bothered by the construction traffic nor that of the 24/7 light and noise pollution once completed. Incidentally, houses built near to others can increase the value of existing if due precautions are taken at the Planning stages.

By JohnHH

I’m OK about this. The council investment is pretty modest given the number of jobs created, and any extra housing is always welcome, irrespective of which part of the market it serves (if rich people can’t find a very posh house, they’ll price other people out of less posh houses). Golf courses aren’t exactly nature reserves, but they’re a lot better than a monoculture prairie. The amount of venom directed towards this project surprises me; after all, if it fails it’ll be the investors who take the hit.

By Moomo

As a resident of Hoylake, I am writing with trepidation regarding the proposed Hoylake Golf Resort. I have many friends who feel the same. In my view, the proposals are the wrong project in the wrong place. Hoylake Vision have proposed a much more ecologically sensitive proposal, which would allow for sensitive eco tourism endorsed by the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, but this does not warrant a mention, despite the fact that it would be highly sensitive to the nature of the land where the proposed development is to take place – that is, land that is prone to flooding (a zone 3 highest risk flood plain) and would require hundreds of thousands of tonnes of imported fill in order to produce the resort itself, a luxury housing estate and a publicly funded road scheme which itself would cost £17 million.
The building of the proposed resort would heighten the risk of flooding in Moreton and Meols, contributing unnecessary environmental problems at a time when climate change is a real cause for concern and it is vitally important for us to manage our environment carefully. The housing estate for instance would be car dependent. Golf is decreasing in popularity overall whereas environmental tourism is growing. The number of jobs created in the short terms is hardly worth all this proposed environmental mayhem and other jobs would flow from a more environmentally sensitive scheme. In my opinion the current Golf Resort proposals are deeply flawed and in my opinion all sensible people need to resist them.

By Marie Watson

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