Plans to build 1,000 homes on former Merseyside golf course rejected

The plans did not demonstrate any ‘very special circumstances’ to outweigh the harm caused to the green belt.

Planning permission to build almost 1,000 homes, a shop, nursery and health centre on the site of a former golf club have been rejected.

St Helens Council’s planning committee has refused planning permission for the homes in the green belt area at the site of the former Eccleston Park Golf Club, which closed in 2018.

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Planning officers recommended the scheme should be refused because it would harm the local area and did not demonstrate any ‘very special circumstances’ to outweigh the harm caused to the green belt.

Developers Mulberry Homes had submitted plans which included access roads from Rainhill Road and Portico Lane on the former golf course.

Why the plans were rejected

Councillors met on Tuesday and were told developers had failed to deliver certainty ‘over several matters’.

This included the provision of affordable housing, education and sport contributions, supporting the area’s biodiversity, delivery of the health centre, health contribution and sustainable transport improvements, as part of the development.

Image from planning documents of the propsed housing development. Image: St Helens Council

A draft submission of the St Helens Local Plan reveals the site itself could be re-designated to non green belt but safeguarded for future development ‘until at least 2037’, according to St Helen’s Council.

What’s been said?

Plans for the new development received many strongly worded objections from local residents who wrote to St Helens Council with their concerns.

One objection said: “My primary concern is for the environment. Once this area of green space is bulldozed it will be gone forever, for all future generations to come.

“For what? For developers to line their fat pockets, and St Helens councillors to line theirs with council tax income.

“This green space is full of trees and grassland which is home to a wide variety of wildlife.

“Large varieties of birds including birds of prey, squirrels, hedgehogs, mice and even deer live on this land…it breaks my heart that the animals which I have feed over the last 20 plus years will be gone.”

Another resident wrote: “St Helens has enough brownfield land to cater for development needs.

“This site has significant highway issues with local roads already gridlocked and extra vehicles would exacerbate this problem.

“This site should be protected and enhanced, to protect the environment and create a local outdoor space for the local community to enjoy.”

Councillor Richard McCauley, cabinet member for regeneration and planning, said: “We are committed to developing our borough in a sustainable way that appropriately meets the future needs of our residents.

“This scheme does not meet the very special circumstances that are needed to approve development in the green belt and the planning committee has taken the decision to refuse planning on those and other grounds.”