The bid to bring the Ryder Cup to the north-west of England has suffered a major setback after plans for the host course were rejected.
Councillors threw out new £200 million proposals for the championship course and resort at Hulton Park at a meeting on Thursday.
Developer Peel L&P had hoped to bring golf’s biggest team competition to the venue, which is on the outskirts of Bolton, as early as 2031.
Planning permission was previously granted for different proposals for the site in 2018.
But the developer’s ambitions now appear to be in jeopardy after a tense meeting of Bolton Council’s planning committee ended with members voting against the plans – despite council officers recommending they approve the proposals.
Richard Knight, director of planning at Peel L&P, claimed rejecting the plans would represent a “betrayal of years of support and a historic missed opportunity”.
However, opponents insisted that once the Ryder Cup had been held at Hulton Park, the town would be left with a “lame duck golf course” and said the developer was planning to rip up the course after the event to make way for housing.
Planning committee chairman John Walsh proposed refusing the application, citing the impact on the green belt land on which the venue would have been built.
Councillor Nicholas Peel added that a lack of support from Bolton Council for a bid to bring the Ryder Cup to the town “blows the application out of the water”.
Addressing the condition that the course would only be built if the tournament was awarded to Hulton Park, he added: “The silence [from the council and government] has been deafening and the condition isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.”
Other councillors spoke of the depth of public feeling about the application, with one member suggesting 90% of the population were opposed to the development, as well as the lack of a bypass to cope with increased traffic.
Hulton Park would have been part of a wider development, also consisting of an on-course hotel and around 1,000 homes.
According to the developer, the venue could bring as many as 1,000 jobs to Bolton, while the overall economic impact of hosting the Ryder Cup at Hulton Park has been estimated to be around £1.6 billion.
Rumours Peel L&P, which also developed the Trafford Centre in Manchester, were aiming to bring the Ryder Cup to Bolton emerged as early as 2016.
Initially the plan was to host the event in 2026, but that edition – pushed back by a year because of Covid-19 – was awarded to Adare Manor in Ireland.
Bosses had already enlisted the help of renowned course designer Ross McMurray, who has previous for working on Ryder Cup venues due to his efforts at Celtic Manor and Le Golf National.