ACTRESS Maxine Peake has spoken out against plans to transform an historic park, which she enjoyed as a youngster, into a golf course.

The former Westhoughton High School pupil has backed campaigners in their battle to stop the £240 million ‘destruction’ of Hulton Park — and has called on to people to fight ‘tooth and nail’ against ‘greedy, heartless developers’.

Campaigners have welcomed her support, saying it helps to raise awareness of what losing the park will mean. The award-winning actress got involved after a campaigner contacted her about the plans by Peel Holdings to develop a Ryder Cup standard golf course and huge housing development, which they describe as a “once-in-a-generation’ project.

Hulton Estate Area Residents (HEART) is campaigning against the proposed development.

Maxine’s email stated: “We must strongly oppose planning permission for Peel Holdings to build on and destroy Hulton Park.

“In our current climate, where affordable houses are near non-existent for huge sections of society, to allow luxury homes and a golf course to be built on Green Belt land is insensitive and ignorant.

“The infrastructure around Hulton Park is already under great strain because of development growth in Westhoughton.”

Under the plans, which have been submitted to Bolton Council, a championship golf venue, supporting facilities and around 1,000 homes will be built.

Maxine’s email said: “This is just another greed scheme aimed at the haves.

“I grew up around Hulton Park and spent many days helping out farmers Pat and Malcolm on Park End farm. Mucking out, grooming and hay making. It gave me a sense of responsibility and kept me out of trouble.

“I camped in Hulton Park as part of a youth group in my teens and found the landscape breathtaking and inspiring. Hulton Park has always felt very magical to me, a timeless haven full of historic interest.

“We should fight tooth and nail to stop our precious landscapes being ravaged by greedy, heartless developers.”

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Sandy Hesketh, a member of the HEART, said: “Maxine’s email is helping to raise awareness of what will be lost if this development goes ahead.

“She highlights how farming livelihoods will be lost as a result of this development.

“Many horses are stabled on the estate and they are at risk as all the stables in the area are full to capacity.”

“We would not only lose a huge area of green belt but a Grade II listed park and garden would be devastated.

“The girls who work at the farm came to one our meetings asking how we can raise awareness of this .

“Maxine is a local girl who used to go there and where she helped out is in ancient woodland is so beautiful and that will be lost.

“We are hoping that Bolton Council will listen to our response to this planning application.

“There is not one single affordable house among the development, the infrastructure cannot cope. There is a lot of pollution in the area, which does hang in the area, from the cars. Hulton Park is the lungs which help to clear the air.”

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David Chadwick, chairman of HEART, said: “It is fantastic Maxine Peake is associating herself with this fight to stop the development of this historical park, which she visited while growing up here.

“She is a local girl who went to Westhoughton High School and the context of her letter is perfect.”

A spokesperson for Peel Land and Property said: “The Hulton Park project will create a new international sporting and tourism destination for Bolton and Greater Manchester. The extensive studies undertaken for the project, including economic impact and social value assessments, show a wide range of potential benefits including over 1,000 jobs and major spin-offs for the local economy through tourism, sport and retail.

“The project will have a strong legacy and outreach programme based around skills and training initiatives, increased participation in sport and improved access to green spaces. Hulton Park will aim to tackle some of the challenges around golf, as a modern national facility that caters not only for the largest global tournaments and events, but also for under-represented and minority groups including women and young people.

“Proposed investments in new infrastructure, including a new link road, primary school and new local centre, will not only mitigate the impacts of the development but provide wider benefits to the local area. The proposals include new homes that will help meet Bolton’s needs and create a new community around the edges of the park. The proposed approach to affordable housing is in line with Bolton Council’s policies and approach on other strategic developments.

“Hulton Park is a private estate that has been in a state of decline for around 100 years. The decline can only be stopped by major investment to renew and regenerate the estate, creating a legacy that future generations can benefit from. We would urge anyone with an interest in the project to engage with us and help make it the best possible success for the local community.”