Bolton Council will NOT be defending their case to throw out  Hulton Park 'Ryder Cup' golf course plan, The Bolton News can exclusively reveal. 

Town Hall chiefs say that after seeking legal advice they will not be explaining the reasons for refusal and will not provide a statement of case.

This has angered campaigners from HEART - Hulton Estate Area Residents Together - who have fought to have the £200million proposal put forward by Peel L&P for the historic estate, which is grade 11 listed greenbelt.

The Hulton Park project also aims to create a new golfing academy, a primary school, a health and wellbeing hub, food and entertainment spaces, a village hall and community allotments.

The project depends on Bolton successfully winning a bid to host the Ryder Cup in 2031 or 2035.

Bolton Council's planning committee rejected the plans in February on the grounds concerns around the environment and congestion.

Developers Peel L&P confirmed that the company will appeal against Bolton Council’s decision in May. And a public inquiry into the decision by the planning inspectorate will be held later this year.

The Bolton News: Vision of Hulton ParkVision of Hulton Park

A spokesman for Bolton Council said: “Ahead of a planning appeal, it is normal practice for councils to seek legal advice to assess whether the grounds for refusal were sufficiently robust to be defended.

“Based on this advice, the council will not be able to appoint external experts to defend the reasons given for refusal of this planning application.

“However, elected members will want to represent the views of their ward residents and will be fully supported by council officers to make their case.

“The council’s position was confirmed with the Planning Inspectorate last week, at which time HEART had already withdrawn from their position as a participant in the appeal process.

“Any successful appeal is still dependent on the applicant submitting a successful Ryder Cup bid.”

The park is a grade II listed park and garden.

HEART has objected to the proposal on grounds of the loss of green belt and the park

Bolton councillors reject 'Ryder Cup' luxury golf course plan

A spokesperson for HEART said: “We are extremely disappointed by the council’s unwillingness to continue in their position of opposing this development.

“It would seem Bolton Council have backtracked on their brave decision to stand up against the developer and now local residents need to fight this appeal.

The Bolton News: HEART campaigners outside Bolton town hall after the vote was taken in FebruaryHEART campaigners outside Bolton town hall after the vote was taken in February

“It seems highly unlikely that the Ryder Cup will be allocated to a yet to be developed golf course and, if this is the case, the development will not proceed.

“Hulton Park is a rare, protected parkland in green belt, untouched for 800 years, and only one of a tiny few of such an age in the entire country. HEART consider this should be preserved and treasured by Bolton Council.

“It also contains one of the earliest railways lines constructed by George Stephenson which has a Scheduled Ancient Monument status.

READ: Bolton's Chequerbent Embankment becomes a scheduled ancient monument

“If it ever happens, the Ryder Cup golf course and associated urban development would create long term harm to this local area. When green belt has gone it has gone forever.”

Richard Knight, Peel L&P’s Director of Planning and Strategy said: “We acknowledge Bolton Council’s latest position on our Hulton Park proposals and understand that it will not be defending any of the reasons for its refusal of the plans.

“Our proposals to redevelop and restore Hulton Park have already received planning permission from the council in 2018 followed by the Secretary of State in 2020 and the revised plans we’ve now submitted are for a much-improved scheme that takes on board further feedback from the community.

“We look forward to putting our case forward at the public inquiry in October.”