THE billionaire boss of the developer behind plans to create a Ryder Cup-standard golf course in Bolton has made a heartfelt appeal for them to be given the go-ahead.

In a rare public move, John Whittaker, chairman of The Peel Group, released a statement about the proposed development yesterday, just over a week before Bolton Council will decide on the planning application.

But opponents of the plans hit back, claiming they are merely ‘an ego trip’ for Mr Whittaker.

As well as the 18-hole championship course, the £240 million scheme also includes 1,036 homes and a new luxury hotel on the Grade II listed Hulton Park estate.

The hope is for the course to host the 2026 Ryder Cup. Mr Whittaker said: “Hulton Park is a crumbling treasure in desperate need of major investment. At Peel, we want to restore the park and build world-class golfing, tourism and community facilities, giving the area a real boost. 

“The development will be at the heart of the local community, providing local jobs and training, community events and facilities, public nature trails and much needed new housing.

“I firmly believe that our vision for the park respects its heritage but will give it a new lease of life for the 21st century.

“Our ambition, working alongside a wide range of partners, is for Hulton Park to host the Ryder Cup — one of the world’s biggest sporting events.

“A spectacle on this scale would showcase Bolton on a global stage and cement Greater Manchester’s position as the sporting capital of the UK.”

The statement comes after a box containing 826 objections to the plan was delivered to Bolton Council by members of campaign group Hulton Estate Area Residents Together (Heart).

These came in addition to another 759 objections, which were submitted last year.

Mr Whittaker continued: “Our team at Peel Land and Property has listened carefully and worked hard to address infrastructure and environmental issues. I can promise that, if we are permitted to proceed with the project, Hulton Park will be a development that local people can be proud of. 

“Our track record of supporting and regenerating local communities across the North West is a long one — from MediaCityUK, RHS Garden Bridgewater and TraffordCity to Liverpool Waters and Wirral Waters. 

“Each scheme, in its own unique way, has a positive impact on people’s lives, not just today but for many years to come. 

“At Hulton Park, we want to create a new model for sustainable golf and tourism facilities. Rescuing it from decay is an amazing chance to invest in the future, creating new opportunities for young people and a positive legacy for future generations.”

The development on the site of the former Hulton Hall, which was demolished in the 1950s, has been widely opposed by the Over Hulton and Westhoughton community.

A demonstration is being held by residents and Heart tomorrow at the entrance to the park in Newbrook Road at 9.30am.

Cllr David Chadwick, who represents Westhoughton South on Bolton Council, said: “As far as I am concerned, the championship golf course is nothing more than an ego trip for Mr Whittaker.

“I do not believe for one minute that Mr Whittaker and Peel will be successful in getting the Ryder Cup.”

He took issue with Mr Whittaker’s claim that Hulton Park was a ‘crumbling treasure’ and said the park was home to many rare species of birds.

He added: “Hulton and Westhoughton do not want 1,061 homes on green belt.

“If the plan was approved and they got the Ryder Cup, there will be about 70,000 people coming to Hulton Park.

“Everyone knows how bad the roads can get at peak times. The A6 and the M61 are completely chock-a-block.

“There is no justification for this. I have spent the last 20 years fighting against developments in Westhoughton and I am not about to roll over and let Mr Whittaker do this.”

The plans for Hulton Park will be decided by the planning committee at Bolton Council on Thursday, March 1 at 10.30am.