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Bolton Councillors urge Peel to drop Ryder Cup homes plan

An open letter to the boss of development giant Peel will urge him to withdraw the company’s plans to build on historic Hulton Park.

Hulton and Westhoughton North and Chew Moor councillors are to appeal to chief executive John Whittaker to end the firm’s interest in building more than 1,000 homes at the green belt site.

Peel, which is bidding for the 2026 Ryder Cup, says the homes are necessary to fund a tournament-standard golf course at the Hulton Park Estate.

Bolton Council approved the proposals – provided the Ryder Cup bid is successful. But they have now been thrown into jeopardy after the government ‘called in’ the application to hold a public inquiry.

Housing secretary James Brokenshire could uphold the decision, but the delay means it is unlikely Peel will have time to bid and prepare for the tournament.

The councillors believe this effectively means the Ryder Cup option is “no longer on the table” and want the developer to reconsider its plans.

Cllr Zoe Kirk-Robinson, ward councillor for Westhoughton North and Chew Moor, hopes Peel will “honour” its previous pledge.

She said: “At the planning meeting they said the entire project hinged on getting the Ryder Cup, so, if they couldn’t get it they would not build the homes.

“And they said if the planning committee had refused the application they would not appeal it, as there would not be time to get the Ryder Cup.

“Now it’s been called in and, even if it is passed, they won’t have time to get the Ryder Cup. It’s not going to happen as the inquiry won’t come quickly enough.

“We would like them to honour what they have said, take this back and put the public’s mind at rest.”
Cllr Martyn Cox, said he hoped Peel would back down.

He added: “I think at some point they have to wake up to the reality and the extent of public opposition to it.

“People were mentioning it on every door I knocked on, and it was nine-to-one against. It wasn’t ‘on the one had this on the other had that’ there has been a level and extent of local opposition to this that is very entrenched.”

He added: “It would put people’s minds at ease and as councillors we would like them to withdraw the application.

“But only Peel will make that decision and I’m sure they will do it on commercial grounds if they decide it’s not viable, but this inquiry makes it more difficult for them.

He added: “They have a long way to go before house are built and the inquiry is another obstacle in their path.”

Peel has acknowledged the difficulties the inquiry poses. But the firm said it remained “committed to its vision”and would discuss the situation with partners to find a way forward.

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