A CONCERTED effort is under way to protect the Hulton Park Estate following the Government's announcement that an independent inquiry will be conducted.

Residents are rallying round to raise £10,000 to cover the cost of legal fees over the next few months

to "save the historic gem and wildlife haven from rampant destruction."

While Hulton Estate Area Residents Together (HEART who have been fighting the plans for more than 18 months) await the commencement of the public inquiry, member Stephen Hall is wasting no time at all and has launched a Just Giving page to raise the money needed for a solicitor and to cover printing costs.

Sandra Hesketh, secretary of HEART, said: "We have spoken to several other groups who have undergone an inquiry and expect that we will need £10,000 for printing costs.

"As a residents' group, the best and most common way forward is to get together with others.

"We will probably hire a solicitor to speak on our behalf of those groups on a united front."

Despite Bolton Council's approval for the scheme, the planning application will be determined by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The public inquiry into the application by Peel Land and Property to build a Ryder Cup golf course and 1,036 homes in Hulton Park, a Grade II-listed estate will be chaired by a planning inspector and is expected to take place in six months’ time. Secretary of State James Brokenshire will make the final decision.

Mrs Hesketh said: "We were absolutely devastated when the Council voted to resolve to approve.

"We knew then it would go to the Secretary of State. It is not over until the fat lady sings.

"I burst into tears when I found out we would get an inquiry. I can't believe it. This is amazing. This is what we want."

Mr Hall said on the crowdfunding page: "Following the decision by the home secretary to call in the planning application for our beloved Hulton Park Estate, we have all now got the chance to help save our historic gem, valuable wildlife habitat and last remaining farms from the total destruction from a ruthless developer.

"Over the next few months, we have a huge amount of work to do and this will mean thousands of pounds in legal fees.

"Please could you all do what you can to share this page and help us save a wonderful place that without your help will be lost forever."

So far £270 has been donated to the page www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/stephen-hall-4.