Peel says the scheme could provide a £1.6bn economic boost. Credit: via Peel L&P

Peel’s £240m Hulton Park dreams dashed by Bolton

“Bolton has quite possibly missed out on the biggest investment in its history,” said Richard Knight, director of planning and strategy at Peel L&P, after all but one Bolton councillor voted against the proposal to build 1,036 homes on Green Belt, alongside a Ryder Cup-standard golf course, primary school, conference centre and hotel.

Councillors cited the impact on Green Belt and the landscape as reasons for refusal.

An earlier version of the scheme – which would have had more impact on Green Belt, fewer community spaces and more housing – had been approved by the council and the secretary of state in 2020.

Knight expressed frustration over the council’s reversal of opinion on the project.

“Bolton Council had approved the previous scheme and encouraged us to make positive changes,” Knight said. “It has done a U-turn at the last hurdle. It is hard to comprehend, but evidently very localised opposition has taken priority over all of the potential benefits for Bolton.”

The newer, rejected application was submitted in September 2021 after undergoing two formal consultations. The application had meant to address community concerns over the first plan. It ensured that only 20% of the 882-acre site would be built on. It also included 15km of new cycleways and footpaths, allotments, a village hall and a health and wellbeing hub.

Peel had also planned to construct a link road between Bolton and Wigan as part of the proposals.

Council planning officers had recommended the application for approval.

Peel L&P’s Hulton Park golf course was one of two shortlisted to be the UK’s choice to host the Ryder Cup in 2031 or 2035. Peel had estimated that hosting the international golf tournament would have brought the wider Bolton economy £1.6bn in socio-economic benefits.

During the planning committee meeting, several councillors expressed scepticism that Hulton Park would ever actually host the Ryder Cup. If it did succeed in hosting the event, some councillors doubted it would deliver as much benefit as Peel had promised.

After the meeting, Knight said Peel would take time to consider the project’s future. Options could include using the older, approved application, appealing the decision or exploring new options for the site.

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Thumbs up for Bolton Council!

Peel never invest in the area, they just spend as little as possible to put together something low quality so they can get their money within 10 or so years. They have done it to airport in Sheffield, much of Liverpool and Media City in Salford (which all three of them have been huge missed opportunities).

By Another Manc

Peel has an extant permission for over 1,000 homes and a hotel complex with a spa, conference centre, championship scale golf course tied to the successful delivery of the Ryder Cup. Even in this scenario the champion tournament would be a one-off event as afterwards land for staging the tournament is phased to be developed for housing. CPRE’s recommended condition limits all and any development to the delivery of the Ryder Cup to ensure very special circumstances exists, which is a prerequisite to develop in the Green Belt. Peel’s application, seeking approval for a revised development without the Ryder Cup, in CPRE’s view was met by a sound decision by Bolton Council. Otherwise, the harms posed to the Green Belt purpose and the environment through the harm to the historic landscape character, farmland and impacts on woodland and ecology outweigh the benefits causing a negative planning balance.

By CPRE Lancashire, Liverpool, and Greater Manchester

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