Hoylake golf resort: Wirral Council rejects £26m loan
A council has decided not to loan £26m to developers hoping to build a golf resort and housing on green belt land.
The proposals for a hotel, two golf courses and about 150 executive homes in Hoylake have faced local protests.
Wirral Council's cabinet agreed the plan would generate jobs but said the funds would be used for more social housing and other "big ticket" regeneration schemes.
Developers Nicklaus Joint Venture Group are considering alternative funding.
The council, which is led by a minority Labour group, had previously considered funding the project.
However, leader Pat Hackett said the loan would have been a "massive investment" for the council and the money would be "better spent on securing affordable and social housing for the many residents who need it elsewhere in our borough."
He said the council was determined to bring investment, jobs and prosperity to Wirral, but it needed to focus instead on devising an action plan "to provide real support to our struggling high streets".
The Conservative group's leader Ian Lewis said the decision was "good news for the taxpayer" but "politically embarrassing and a humiliating U-turn" for the council.
The plan, which may yet go ahead, will now receive no public funding.
The decision follows a meeting of the Business Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 27 June, which saw a motion to discontinue the funding agreement win unanimous cross-party support from its 13 members.
Campaigner Phil Simpson, who is chairman of three groups opposed to the plans, said it was "very welcome news".
He added that if the plans went forward with private funding, they would continue to be opposed by groups across Wirral.
Jim Anderson, chair of the Nicklaus Joint Venture Group, said the decision was "highly disappointing" because the company had invested a "great deal of money" in the project over the last five years.
He added that it still had the "appetite to deliver" the scheme and looked forward to "considering alternative funding options and to working with Wirral Council to bring this exciting project forward."