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24 Feb 2022

Bolton refuses improved Hulton Park plans

Peel L&P’s revised plans to restore and redevelop Hulton Park into a sport and healthy living destination were today refused by Bolton Council’s Planning Committee, contrary to an officer recommendation to approve and against a Secretary of State approval of a less beneficial scheme for the local area.

The proposals to transform the historic estate into a world-class golf resort and parkland, capable of hosting the Ryder Cup in 2031 or 2035, would have created over 1,000 new jobs and delivered £1.6bn in socio-economic benefits for Bolton and the wider economy. In the last few weeks, it had been revealed that Hulton Park was down to the final two venues shortlisted to host the Ryder Cup.

The proposals would have opened up the park to the public for the first time in its 700-year history and created much-needed housing as well as a new school, health and wellbeing hub, village hall, allotments and around 15km of new cycleways and footpaths through the site. Only 20% of the site would have been built upon.

Peel L&P would have also delivered part of a new link road between Bolton and Wigan to help improve local transport.

Speaking following the decision, Richard Knight, Director of Planning and Strategy at Peel L&P said:

“The vision for Hulton Park goes beyond sport and housing, it’s about creating a lasting legacy that will spark excitement, aspirations, new opportunities and improve people’s health and wellbeing.

“We’re disappointed by this outcome. Bolton has quite possibly missed out on the biggest investment in its history. Bolton Council had approved the previous scheme and encouraged us to make positive changes. 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.  

“Since 2018, we have worked hard with local residents and stakeholders in order to adapt our proposals to reflect the community’s aspirations for the site with less homes on Green Belt land and a range of facilities including a new school, health and wellbeing hub public trails and transport improvements. 

“We will now take the time to reflect on the decision and liaise with our partners to consider if there is any way the project can still be brought forward, or whether we now need to consider if there are alternative opportunities for restoring and bringing new life to Hulton Park.” 

Having been approved by the Secretary of State in 2020, this new planning application looked to revise the proposals with important changes made as a result of community feedback, focusing in particular on sustainability, inclusivity and accessibility as well as delivering even more community facilities for the local community.

Councillors refused the proposals despite strong public support as well as the Council’s planning officers publishing their strong recommendation to approve the scheme, which stated that “the cumulative benefits that would arise because of the development would clearly and significantly outweigh all harm identified and that the proposals would have a positive and transformational effect on Bolton and the wider Greater Manchester region, and it is a genuinely unique opportunity to secure long-lasting and wide-ranging benefits.”

The application also received enthusiastic support from a number of prominent organisations including The University of Bolton, GreaterSport and the Confederation of British Industry North West (CBI), the Greater Manchester Chamber and Marketing Manchester.