The development of 11 woodland lodges at Formby Hall Golf Resort is set to return to Sefton’s planning committee, having already been deferred twice due to debate over its impact on the Green Belt.
The timber lodges will each be two-bedroom, each featuring a decking area and a kitchenette with heating and hot water provided by a proposed biomass plant, to be brought forward under a separate planning application. The lodges would be serviced from the main Formby Hall hotel, to the north of the hotel and golf course.
Advised by Turley, the resort’s plans last went before Sefton Council’s planning committee in June, but were deferred in order to get more information from the applicant regarding the loss of trees in order to make way for the development.
The project has proved contentious as it would see the loss of Green Belt, although the resort and the council’s planning department have argued that the impact would be outweighed by the increase in tourism. The proposal was originally for 18 lodges but has been reduced twice, to 15 and then 11.
In a report to the council committee, which is due to meet next week, planning officers said: “While the development comprises ‘inappropriate development in the Green Belt’, it will bring a number of significant benefits. In particular, the unique nature of the accommodation and its setting will make a distinctive contribution to tourism and to the economy of the borough.”
Since the last meeting, the Woodland Trust has withdrawn its objection, as a “veteran tree” it was concerned with is set to be protected as part of the project. While there will be 111 trees cut down to make way for the lodges, these are “category C” trees, meaning they’re considered to be of low quality. The Golf Resort has said there will be 450 large trees, and 8,130 smaller trees planted as part of its expansion proposals, to balance out the loss of woodland.
However, Formby Civic Society has maintained its objection, and said: “We are certain that the introduction of 11 large structures covering nearly 4 hectares of this 8 hectare wood does not meet the requirements of this part of the NPPF. We are so dissatisfied with the owners interpretation of the NPPF we have contacted the relevant department of the HCLG to clarify the objectives in the NPPF for protection of the green belt in relation to the application.
“We feel that the resort has had more than its share of the green belt and should be content with what has been approved so far”.
Formby Hall Golf Resort opened in 1998 and has gone through several expansion projects since. It currently extends to more than 200 acres and already features two golf courses of 18 and nine holes; a 27-bay driving range; a golf shop; health spa; and a 76-bed hotel.
Last year, the resort secured planning permission for further work; this includes a two-storey wing to be built on the existing overspill car park, featuring 43 en-suite rooms with balconies or patios, while the first floor of the existing health club and spa building will be converted to provide 20 rooms. A quadrant-shaped golf clubhouse and function room is also proposed, featuring an event space for more than 300 guests.