Wirral Council says it is “encouraged” by progress being made on the £190 million Hoylake Golf Resort, in the face of continued opposition to the scheme.
The proposal, first announced in 2015, would see two new championship golf courses – including the only Jack Nicklaus designed municipal course in the country, along with a luxury hotel, conference centre and new houses.
It is estimated that 175 jobs would be created by the 350 acre development, which would be managed by Celtic Manor, the company behind a resort in South Wales that hosted the 2010 Ryder Cup and 2014 NATO summit.
Despite a qualified thumbs up during an initial public consultation in 2016, a group of opponents have been running a vocal protest campaign.
‘Stop Hoylake Golf Resort’ has repeatedly raised concerns over homes being built on greenbelt, highlighted worries over the potential for flooding and increased levels of traffic, and expressed scepticism over the economic benefits.
Their online petition against the proposal has so far attracted more than 6,300 signatures – and thousands more on paper, while Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood has called on Labour Party colleagues in charge at the local authority to scrap the scheme.
Next week, councillors at Wallasey Town Hall will debate and vote on a motion put down by Oxton Lib Dem Cllr Allan Brame and the Green Party’s Birkenhead and Tranmere representative, Cllr Pat Cleary, calling on the council to call a halt to the proposal.
The council has spent around £650,000 on environmental, transport and economic impact studies, and agreed in principle to loan the venture up to £26 million which would generate a windfall of £2.5 million in interest payments for the cash-strapped local authority. A planning application is thought to be likely in 2019.
In a statement, council leader Phil Davies insisted the scheme is making progress, but said the next move is in the hands of those driving it.
He said: “Wirral Council is encouraged by recent progress from the developers behind the Hoylake Golf Resort.
“Celtic Manor – confirmed as the hotel, leisure and golf operator – are looking at Hoylake as the location of their first luxury leisure resort in the north, a scheme forecast to create hundreds of new jobs, attract thousands of visitors and millions of pounds of investment to Wirral.
“It is now for the joint venture between Celtic Manor, the Jack Nicklaus group and their partners to bring forward their plans and funding arrangements.
“Wirral Council remains supportive of this scheme to create a world class leisure destination in Hoylake and looks forward to the plans being presented for consultation so residents and businesses can have their say.”
Cllr Davies added: “As a local authority impacted by budget cuts and austerity, we are always interested in innovative and entrepreneurial ways to bring money into the borough to keep our frontline services going. Celtic Manor’s proposed Hoylake development is one of those ideas.
“As well as welcoming a blue-chip, globally-renowned organisation to our borough, we should also look carefully at opportunities to become a potential investor in the scheme to further benefit the residents of Wirral.”
The motion calling for the scheme to be scrapped will be debated at a meeting of the full council on Monday 10 December.