Liverpool

Hoylake £200m Jack Nicklaus golf resort motion narrowly passes

Protesters at Wallasey Town Hall
Image caption Campaigners said they would continue to fight the scheme

A motion calling for greater scrutiny of a plan for a £200m golf resort on green belt has received narrow support at an emergency council meeting.

The scheme in Hoylake, Wirral, which includes a hotel, two courses and housing, has faced local opposition

The plan faced two motions calling for it to be scrapped which failed, one by a single vote, while a third, wanting more analysis, was passed by three.

Council leader Phil Davies said the plan could revitalise the town.

Hoylake has hosted international golf tournaments for over a century and the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, which lies close to proposed development, has been named as the venue for the 151st Open Championship in 2022.

'Wider potential benefits'

Up to 250 campaigners gathered to protest outside the meeting and said they would continue to fight against the scheme.

Campaigner Phil Simpson told those who had gathered that the aim was "to keep our green belt".

"We don't want to see one house on any part of it."

Image copyright Wirral Council
Image caption The plans for the site, close to Hoylake station, include housing, two courses and a hotel

Speaking as the motion by the ruling Labour group passed by 32 votes to 29, Mr Davies acknowledged concerns but said the scheme had "wider potential benefits", which included "revitalising the Hoylake high street".

"If we say this scheme should be abandoned, it will send a message that Wirral is closed for business," he added.

"The danger is people will go elsewhere."

Analysis: Claire Hamilton, BBC Radio Merseyside political reporter

Green belt development is the thorn in this Labour-run council's side.

Local authorities need to make money and generate income; leafy parts of their boroughs are attractive prospects for developers.

The golf resort plan's created huge bad feeling, not just from the public, but also within Wirral's Labour party.

Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood opposes the plans; the local campaign forum, which oversees the work of Labour councillors, opposes the plans; two Labour councillors told a packed council chamber that they opposed the plans.

Yet the councillors were whipped to vote with their party, so they did.

With local elections on the horizon, this issue will not go away.

In a statement, Wirral Labour Party said the passed motion did not "secure the development".

"It calls for a scrutiny committee to be set up... with a recommendation to go to cabinet in the summer."

The development, which will also include a health club, spa and a golf academy, would be built by Nicklaus Joint Venture Group and named after golf legend Jack Nicklaus.

If approved, the site's municipal golf course and hotel are expected to open in 2020 and the whole complex should be completed by 2027.

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