The Widnes Golf Course investigation is ongoing

A PUBLIC inquiry has started into whether 233 houses can be built on a golf course in Widnes.

Anwyl Homes had applied for permission to build the Widnes Golf Club properties, which would also see the course itself reduced in size from 18 holes to nine.

The original plans were rejected by council last March, with more than 2,000 local residents signing a petition against it. The company appealed against this decision and filed a new amended planning application.

But the 13-week period to determine this new request has expired and Anwyl appealed to the Government Planning Inspectorate on the grounds of “non-determination”. This means that the inspector will now have the final say and not the advice.

The five-day virtual inquiry to determine enforcement began today, Monday, chaired by attorney Rory Cridland, an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Day one – which took place online via Microsoft Teams – saw opening statements from representatives of Anwyl and Halton Borough Council, as well as statements from Halton Councilors Andrea Wall and Eddie Dourley.

Speaking on behalf of Anwyl, John Barrett said: ‘A proper golf needs assessment has been prepared which identified that Widnes Golf Club in its current form had a number of significant issues, including the layout of the golf course itself, its proximity to housing, an outdated clubhouse, declining staff numbers, and financial viability issues.

“The proposed development provides an opportunity and the financial mechanism to improve the on-sight golf offering, providing a higher quality, more accessible and sustainable golf venue and facilities.”

Speaking against the appeal on behalf of Halton Borough Council, John Hunter told the inquiry: ‘The current ratio of routes to population in both Halton and 20 minutes’ drive is well below the generally benchmark applied in the golf industry, which is one course per 20-25,000 people, compared to the current offering of 1-65,000 in Halton or 1-35,500 within a 20 minute drive.

Highfeld councilor Andrea Wall told the inquest the course was “an important part of green infrastructure”.

She said: “I believe this green space should be protected for the people of Widnes, we have a duty to protect this important piece of green infrastructure for future generations.”

Cllr Eddie Dourley, speaking in a personal capacity as a local resident, added: ‘We don’t need this accommodation on Widnes Golf Club. This local green space is special to the local community and is demonstrated by the large number of people who made performances. »

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