Posted by: westlancashirerecord | January 3, 2019

Beacon Park Golf Course Cock-Up Cover-Up

WLBC  has produced its proposed answers to its grotesque failure to control the excessive and illegal landfill-for-royalty planning debacle. Giving Serco Leisure Operating Limited (SLOL) and Oakland Golf and Leisure Ltd (OGLL) the opportunity to rip-off the council tax payers who own the course is now seen as leading to more years of misery especially for Senior Golfers  at BPGC. It’s cock-up is now being covered-up!

In May 2018 WLBC publicly stated to the press“Material has been deposited in three locations on the golf course, the former driving range, alongside the first fairway, and the new nine-hole golf course. While the total amount of material deposited on the golf course is within the limits allowed under the planning consent, larger amounts of material have been deposited than shown on the approved plans in the areas in question. It is only in the case of the former driving range , however, that the non-compliance with the approved plan is deemed so significant as to warrant the council taking action. During the deposit of material, the council contacted the Environment Agency to ensure that proper monitoring of the type of material being brought on to the site was in place. So why is action now having been forced on WLBC to correct excessive dumping on the 9hole heap [2018/1158/FUL]?

There is still no apparent intention for penalties against SLOL and OGLL for their illegal operation of the golf course development. The two companies are the only apparent beneficiaries of the landfill royalty income. This application worsens that landfill royalty abuse by agreeing to retain the illegal excess material on the course.

Planning case 1 refers to application 2018/1158/FUL Beacon Park Golf Centre Beacon Lane Dalton Wigan Lancashire WN8 7RU. The application seeks to retrospectively regularise earthworks carried out to form a new short-course golf facility, which is a clear acceptance of irregular and illegal landfill activity. The site has recently been subject to works under the terms of the 2011 and 2016 permissions and has been re-profiled to form the basis of the short-hole course but currently remains unused.

The application seeks retention of increased levels on the site. This amounts to an estimated 16,000 m3 over the site giving an additional average level in the order of 0.4 m across the site, but variations appear to be less than this on the majority of the site with the bulk of additional material graded on the south-western slope of the site. In addition, the installation of gravel pathways providing access to either side of the first hole from the first tee is proposed and two herringbone drainage fields to manage surface water run-off.

“Works commenced on the Beacon Park site following the initial grant of planning permission for large scale remodelling of the golf course and adjacent land, including the importation of significant amounts of inert material. In August 2015 a complaint was received by the Council that the works were not being completed in accordance with the approved plans. Investigations found that material for the works had been brought on to this and other parts of the site however the majority of the works to the 18-hole golf course remained incomplete and three main areas were left with additional stockpiled material – the 9-hole course, the former driving range area, and a linear strip between the first fairway and Elmers Green Lane. In accordance with adopted enforcement protocols, efforts have been directed at seeking resolution with the site operator to attempt to resolve any planning harm arising. This application relates to the 9-hole course area only.

“Notwithstanding that an extant permission is in place for significant works to the golf course, I am aware of concerns that the proposals may result in lengthy disruptions to course users with implications for competitive golf and handicaps. The proposed works will inevitably result in disruption during an interim halt to use of the first fairway, green and second tees to users as the works take place. The use of temporary tees and greens, and reconfiguration of some of the remaining holes will ensure that the Council of National Golf Unions standards will be met for course length and par thereby ensuring continuous eligibility to host competitions and maintain handicaps”. This claim is patently untrue as the so-called continuous eligibility to host competitions has been forfeited by the expulsion of the BPGC Senior Golf Club by the local competitive league.

As for 2018/1164/FUL “Remodeling of driving range at Beacon Park Golf Centre to create a Foot Golf course, remodeling of 1st hole green, 2nd hole tees, creation of mounding and re-profiling of ground adjacent to 1st fairway, remodeling of ground between 1st and 18th holes and associated landscaping”. The application seeks approval of works to remove stockpiled fill  from the former golf driving range at Beacon Park Golf Centre to form a ‘foot-golf’ course on the site; to retrospectively regularise earthworks carried out  to form a linear series of landscape mounds on the southern fringe of the 18-hole course; and, seek minor amendments of previously approved enhancements to the southern part of the 18-hole course including land level increases. The existing and proposed works are considered acceptable in principle and detail in that they provide enhancements to the facilities to encourage outdoor sport and recreation whilst preserving the Green Belt and landscape qualities.

“The proposals insofar as they relate to the former driving range will reduce current levels between about – 1.0 m and + 4.2 m [almost 14 feet] (the majority of the area will see an average removal of about 3 metres [almost 10 feet] depth of material removed) to provide a relatively level playing area for foot-golf (aside from localised mound profiling for visual interest and course enhancement). The western side of the land will see a reduced incline from the current situation with a linear mound and low fencing to limit ball run-off. Gated access to the lower part of the western slope will be provided and facilitated by 4 runs of timber steps. The site will be laid out to provide a nine hole course with tees, greens and landscaping.

“A significant proportion of the works are relatively small amendments to the previously approved schemes. The new linear string of mounds to the southern extent of the 18 hole course assimilate well and help define this limit of the course. The construction of the 9hole foot golf course on the former driving range  will provide a new facility aimed at introducing young and older users alike into a relatively new recreational activity whilst complimenting the existing facilities. The proposals are in general compliance with the WLLP and NPPF and therefore planning permission should be granted”. 

We are certain the WLBC Planning Committee will agree. To do otherwise would be an admission of guilt of neglect, dereliction of duty, no shining the light on whose pockets the landfill royalty cash filled, Serco absolved of other than minor planning breaches. But the stench will linger over the Beacon Park golf Course for a long time, and for the Senior Golf Club Members their expulsion from competitive golf means they are the only victims of the whole debacle. Well done WLBC!


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