I WAS interested to read Mr John Whittaker’s aspirations for the Ryder Cup golf course at Hulton Park. There are some surprising assertions in it:

“Hulton Park is a crumbling treasure.” The estate was purchased by Peel Group in 2010, so it has been crumbling for eight years under their management. To improve the treasure, Peel is intending to remove 63,000 square metres of established woodland and 2,900 metres of hedgerow, which will drive away all the wildlife that lives in these.

“The development will be at the heart of the local community.” The development will not be accessible to the people of Westhoughton. The championship golf course and four-star hotel will be accessible to guests paying equivalent prices. However they will be screened off from both the housing development and the Hulton Trail, the only public footpath which is around the very edge of the site. The scheme may generate some jobs, but these will be for a tiny proportion of the 3,000 – 4,000 people who come into the area and live in the housing.

The Ryder Cup is only a “hope”. Why on earth would the organisers take a risk on a newly-established and unproven course in 2026 when there are several other major courses around the UK with a proven track record?

The travel plan for the Ryder Cup is a paper exercise of pure fantasy. To move 60,000 people on match days by road would take some 800-900 buses from park and ride sites many miles away, and these would be travelling on the overcrowded M60 and M61 among others. The traffic assessments do not even consider this extra load. Meanwhile they are supposed to be bringing 7,000 people to the site by train to local stations like Atherton and Daisy Hill. Would commuters please like to comment?

Finally, Peel say very little about money in their submission. What they do say in three places is that the £240 million golf course is not financially viable in its own right and requires a cross subsidy from the 1,061 houses they are going to build on green belt. A simple calculation shows that to fund even a part of the cost would require a subsidy of £50,000 - £100,000 per house. Would you pay that much over the odds for a house with a golf course next door that you don’t even have access to?

Oh, and the flagship Ryder Cup: Peel’s Economic Impact Assessment states that “the scale and importance of the Ryder Cup at Hulton Park would secure Government support”. Do you think that the Government is up for funding an international sporting contest at the moment?

If the golf course plans don’t make sense, I conclude that the Hulton Park development is just a ruse to secure planning permission to build a mass of housing on green belt and protected open land. I trust that Bolton councillors on the planning committee will see this when they consider the proposal on March 1.

Phil Wood