Formby Hall has outlined proposals to extend and upgrade its current facilities to create “a world-class, multi-purpose resort” including an additional 63 hotel rooms, 22 eco-lodges, a new golf clubhouse, spa, and a small-scale residential development, all on green belt land in Sefton.
Supported by planner Turley and architect Unwin Jones Partnership, the resort has outlined a significant investment in its estate which will see a new-build extension to its existing hotel; a golf clubhouse and function suite, an extension to its restaurant, and office suite, and a re-configured leisure club.
Also submitted with the proposals under a separate application are plans to build 10 residential units, replacing the farm buildings known as The Piggeries; and an outline application for 18 woodland lodges overlooking the golf course.
The resort 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.
It also hosts one of only three PGA Academies in the UK, and the only one in the North of England.
According to Turley, the resort is “frequently turning away requests for accommodation due to a lack of availability”, while the existing spa has a “sub-optimal layout” and the vehicular access to the site “lacks a sense of place and is detrimental to the resort’s reputation as an upscale destination”.
A two-storey wing is proposed 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. This will be built on land to the west of the existing hotel building.
Elsewhere, a new spa is proposed for nearby the 10th hole fairway lake, which will replace existing containers and sheds. Featuring two standalone buildings, this will include hot tubs, terraces, a bistro, indoor and outdoor vitality pools, and treatment rooms.
Back-of-house functions for the hotel and golf club will also be relocated to a new building to the north of the current health club and spa, beside the driving range, featuring a single-storey biomass plant building and two storeys of office space.
The hotel’s existing overspill car park is proposed to become the resort’s main parking facility with a capacity of 439 vehicles, including accessible spaces.
The entire resort falls within green belt under Sefton’s local plan, but Turley argued the resort could argue for “very special circumstances” to allow the project to go ahead.
The planners’ statement said: The proposed expansion seeks to turn the Resort into a ‘best in class’ golf and leisure destination, which will be regarded as one of the best facilities in the North West of England. It will achieve this by building on its strengths and addressing existing operational constraints. This approach will enable it to compete more competitively with other destination resorts across the UK, and draw a greater number of visitors to the resort, the borough and the sub-region.
It is therefore clear that there is policy support in principle at the local, sub-regional and national level for the development of growth opportunities and new hotel and leisure facilities of the quality proposed at the resort. This is an important material consideration and one that weighs heavily in favour of the proposed development.
Turley added the scheme “will give rise to negligible technical and environment harm, and the benefits of the scheme therefore clearly outweigh any limited harm to the openness of the Green Belt and the environment.”
The professional team on the project also includes ecologist TEP; Westwood on landscape; and Peter Brett Associates as environmental consultant.