Dozens of objectors have told a government-appointed inspector why they oppose a major housing development and Ryder Cup-ready golf course at Hulton Park as a long-awaited inquiry got underway this week.
Planning inspector Karen Ridge, who will advise the Secretary of State as to whether or not he should allow the plans to go ahead, listened to the concerns of those who would be directly affected by the proposed development.
Local resident Elaine Taylor, a garden historian, spoke of Hulton’s heritage as a “rare” and “exceptional” park.
She presented the inspector with the bill which designer William Emes handed to William Hulton in 1765 for his Georgian landscape park.
The “rare” and “exceptional” park, which is now a “haven” for wildlife, has hardly changed since the first plan was drawn up, according to Mrs Taylor.
She said: “This work of art is a measure of our civilisation, a refinement in a commercial world. The plan does not conserve or enhance, on the contrary – it alters irretrievably.
“This plan will sacrifice it for a venture only for the privileged few. The great public benefit of Hulton Park is beauty and tranquillity. This landscape is a gentle Cinderella. This scheme will turn it into a cash cow.”
All three Hulton councillors spoke during the evening session, urging the inspector to recommend against allowing 1,036 houses, a 142-bed hotel and championship standard golf course to be built at the historic beauty spot.
Cllr Diane Parkinson made reference to a 2001 document which describes Hulton Park as a “remarkable oasis” in an area which has suffered “significant damage” to its countryside and farmland character.
She said: “The answer to solving the housing crisis does not lie in tearing up the green belt. This land should be protected and only considered if all other reasonable options for building homes have been fully explored.”
Fellow Conservative councillor Derek Bullock described the historic estate as a “rare island of tranquility” in a largely urban environment.
Bolton West MP Chris Green also spoke at the public inquiry, arguing that the locally unpopular development would not enhance the communities around it.
Bolton South East MP Yasmin Qureshi is expected to speak at the next public session which will take place in the Albert Halls at 3pm on Thursday, October 10.
Richard Knight, Peel L&P’s planning director, said: “We listened carefully to all the witness statements and will be addressing all the points and concerns raised over the course of the inquiry.”
The public inquiry is scheduled to finish on October 16.