AMBITIOUS £240 million plans for a Ryder Cup-standard golf course and huge housing development have been revealed.
Peel Land and Property today submitted a planning application for a 'once-in-a-generation' project on the Hulton Park Estate near Westhoughton — including the creation of a championship golf venue, supporting facilities and around 1,000 homes.
The 18-hole championship golf course has been designed by European Golf Design, to cater for the largest golf tournaments, including the Ryder Cup, which requires the capacity and facilities to host the world’s media and around 70,000 visitors at a time.
Since Peel's intention to develop the land was first revealed last year, nearby residents have campaigned to put a stop to the scheme through the Hulton Estate Area Residents Together (HEART) group.
Complementing the golf course will be a new luxury hotel with spa and conference facilities, to be built on the site of the former Hulton Hall which was demolished in the 1950s.
‘New Hulton Hall’ will sit in the restored listed landscape of lakes, pleasure grounds and a walled kitchen garden that once graced the estate.
As part of the plans, a new golf clubhouse will also be built on the edge of the park, while on adjoining land a golf academy will also be created. It would include a driving range, short course area, adventure golf, and spaces for education, tuition and sports science.
Around 1,000 new homes are also proposed around the fringes of the vast 645-acre estate.
Richard Knight, planning director at Peel, said “The Hulton Park project is a unique once-in-a-generation opportunity to sensitively restore a lost historic park into a world class golf destination.
“It’s a perfect fit for Bolton and Greater Manchester, using investment in sporting venues and major events to boost the local economy, provide new job opportunities for local people, increase participation in sport and improve community access for recreation.
“The new homes are an essential part of the project and will help meet local needs. We have taken our time to listen and address all the issues that have been raised, with the aim of delivering a positive and lasting legacy.”
However, nearby neighbours remain highly sceptical of the chances of bringing the Ryder Cup to the site and say they will fight hard to protect the green space in the area.
Cllr David Chadwick, chairman of HEART, said: "We don't believe that Peel have got any chance whatsoever of getting the Ryder Cup. We know from our research that there are a number of European countries — including France, Spain, and Portugal — with existing golf courses that are vying to host the next tournament.
"I have spent the last 20 years fighting development on green belt sites and I have no intention of rolling over and allowing Peel to build houses here.
"If they do then they will not be the kind of affordable homes Bolton needs, they will be expensive homes next to a golf course."
He added that the outcome of a planning inquiry into a controversial 300-home project for land elsewhere in Westhoughton, due to be heard this summer, will have significant bearing on Peel's hopes.
Cllr Chadwick said: "We are setting our stall out to scrutinise what the plans are and to fight it tooth and nail.
"But I do not underestimate the task in front of us, I never have."
The estate, which was home to the Hulton family for nearly 1,000 year, was acquired by Peel in 2010 when it was brought onto the market.
It is also the site of the Pretoria Pit disaster of 1910, where 344 men and boys died after an underground explosion occurred at what was then known as the Hulton Bank Colliery Number 3 Pit.
The proposals include the Hulton Trail walking and cycling route around the park, a new Pretoria Park and improvements to the Pretoria Pit Memorial at the edge of the site, which Peel say will be developed and delivered in partnership with the local community.
Peel bosses say that the project will also facilitate multi-million pound investments in local infrastructure, including a new primary school on adjoining land and a new access road that will relieve junction congestion in nearby Westhoughton.
Following two rounds of public consultation in 2016, the plans have now been submitted and will be consulted on formally by Bolton Council before a decision is made. If planning permission is granted, it is anticipated that development could start as soon as 2019.