An inquiry into the controversial 1,000-home and championship golf course project by Peel L&P is set to get under way in October.
The developer’s £240m investment in the site, which it purchased in 2010, includes plans for a Ryder Cup-standard golf course, a hotel with conferencing and spa facilities, and outline consent for 1,036 homes. The championship golf course will form part of a bid to host the Ryder Cup in 2030 or 2034.
Under the masterplan, the 142-bed hotel will be housed in the grade two-listed Hulton Hall and will be either four or five-star, taking up 116,000 sq ft.
Residential development will be split across three areas; a 150-acre site of circa 759 homes to the west, accessed via a new link road running between Chequerbent roundabout and Platt Lane; an 18-acre site of 192 houses, accessed from the A6; and a 15-acre site with the potential to deliver 85 homes.
A planning application for the site was approved by Bolton Council in early 2018 but was called in by the Secretary of State; the scheme has not been without controversy with an initial consultation attracting more than 1,000 letters of objection.
The Green Belt nature of the site has been the main bone of contention, but Bolton Council argued Peel had demonstrated “very special circumstances” to allow development to ahead. These include the restoration of the grade two-listed Hulton Park; an absence of alternative location; the social, cultural and tourism value of the proposals; and meeting the borough’s housing need.
A viability assessment submitted by Peel L&P suggests the development as a whole would make a loss of around £25m, meaning that the developer is not putting forward any affordable housing contribution as a result.
The developer also said the new homes would provide a £4.5m new homes bonus to the council, as well as additional council tax payments of £2m and annual business rates revenue of £400,000.
An inquiry into the plans is set to kick off on 1 October with all parties now tasked with putting together evidence to support the scheme. Last month, Bolton Council agreed to “limit the amount of resources in defending this decision [the planning application] made by the [planning] committee to the statutory minimum”.
The inquiry will close on 6 November.