Change to golf club homes plan fails to impress opponents

Developers have cut the number of houses proposed for a controversial golf course project – but only by six.

Revised plans for a housing development on Widnes Golf Club now include 249 homes rather than 255.

The developer, Anwyl, has also objected to a recommendation made by Halton Council’s planning department that the plans should be rejected because it would mean an unacceptable loss of green space.

But opponents of the plan, including local councillor Andrea Wall, said the amendments had not persuaded them to stop campaigning against the development.

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Cllr Wall said: “A reduction of six houses has not changed mine or the local community’s view that a housing development there would be bad for Widnes.

“The loss of designated green space, the increase in traffic congestion, pressure on local services and the impact on school places are all unacceptable to us.

“The developers are obviously determined to get their way due to the amount of money that will be made if they get planning permission.

“I and the community are equally determined to stop this destruction of green space in the centre of our town and detrimental impact on the local community. Covid-19 has made it even more obvious that we should be valuing green space and heavily protecting it for future generations.”

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In a report written at the beginning of June, the council’s planning department recommended refusing planning permission for the development, which would also include a reconfigured nine-hole golf course in place of the current 18-hole course.

Planning officers said this would leave Widnes in the “highly unusual” position of not having an 18-hole course, and that “its loss would be a significant loss of golfing provision for the town”.

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They added that the golf course had “many different amenity values which would ultimately be compromised by the proposed development” and that the extra houses would cause a “significant and unacceptable negative impact” on roads in the area.

But in its revised proposals, Anwyl has sought to address these concerns, saying the nine-hole course will be of “better quality” than the existing one.

The proposals state: “There is therefore no loss in sport or recreation facilities, rather, the proposal represents an upgrade and reconfiguration of the existing facilities, which is facilitated by the redevelopment of part of the site for residential purposes.”

The developer has also pointed to the dire financial situation of Widnes Golf Club, saying it expects a deficit of £30,000 by 2022 while the Covid-19 crisis has seen 74 members resign, compounding the club’s problems.

John Grime, managing director of Anwyl Homes Lancashire said: “As is normal practice we have made a number of changes following consultation responses to the application and discussions with planners.

“Our plans will invest in and help protect the future of both Widnes and Blundells Hill golf clubs, while providing thoughtfully designed, quality new homes in a sustainable location.”

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