Jenrick approves 1,000-home golf course scheme on Greater Manchester green belt

Secretary of state Robert Jenrick has approved plans for a championship-level golf course and more than 1,000 homes on an unallocated green belt site in Greater Manchester, concluding that the scheme's socio-economic benefits “clearly outweighed” any harm to the protected land.

Hulton Park Estate. Image: Geograph / Anthony Parkes
Hulton Park Estate. Image: Geograph / Anthony Parkes

Developer Peel Holdings Land and Property has secured full planning permission to redevelop the Hulton Park estate as a golf resort  including an 18-hole course and clubhouse, a golf academy, shop, cafe, and a hotel with spa and conference facility.

Outline permission was also granted for the development of 1,036 homes and a local centre on 56 hectares of land at the estate.

Permission has been granted on the basis that the development can only go ahead if a bid for the planned resort to host the Ryder Cup golf tournament in 2030 or 2034 is successful. A decision on the bid is expected to be made this summer, with Jenrick ruling that the condition should be secured in a section 106 legal agreement.

Plans for the scheme were submitted in May 2017 and approved by Bolton Council in March the following year. The decision was called in by then housing secretary James Brokenshire in July 2018 and a public inquiry was held in October 2019.

Issuing his decision, Jenrick said he agreed with inspector Karen Ridge that the proposals would result in significant harm to the openness of the green belt, substantial urban sprawl, and encroachment into the open countryside.

However, Jenrick found the harms arising from the proposed scheme would be outweighed by the socio-economic benefits and that the required "very special circumstances" existed to allow development in the green belt.

While the site has not been allocated for housing in the Bolton local plan, Jenrick noted that the council could not demonstrate a five year housing land supply and said the presumption in favour of sustainable development applied.

“Taking into consideration national policy to significantly boost the supply of housing, the secretary of state considers this represents a significant benefit which attracts significant weight,” he said.

Jenrick said a proposed affordable housing contribution of 10 per cent was below the local plan requirement of 35 per cent but found “the scheme cannot currently afford to bear the costs of affordable housing provision”.

The housing secretary said the socio-economic benefits of the proposed scheme, which included an estimated 1,686 jobs and £1.1 billion generated, would be very significant anywhere in the UK. However, it took on greater significant in a region “which lags behind economically and evidences higher levels of deprivation and economic inactivity”, he said.

In conclusion, Jenrick said the harm to the green belt would be “clearly outweighed” by the “range and magnitude of the socio-economic benefits”.

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