Major ‘glass box’ golf club hotel plan refusal overturned on appeal

A major hotel development on the site of a south Liverpool golf course can go-ahead after being approved on appeal.

In December 2022, Liverpool Council rejected a plan lodged by Green Circle Estates to construct a four-storey extension above its Grade II listed Manor House structure to accommodate a new hotel and basement spa. In doing so, the now planning committee chair, Cllr Tom Cardwell, likened the plans to “a big glass box” and Milton Keynes train station.

More than a year on, the initial decision by members at Liverpool Town Hall has been quashed by the Planning Inspectorate, which has given the project the go-ahead.

Plans had originally been put forward for a 31-bed development which representatives from Allerton Golf Trading Ltd said were no longer viable financially and had hoped the new scheme would be able to be constructed in its stead.

Work was undertaken on wider improvements at the golf club including a pavilion golf shop, adventure golf course, relocated putting green, driving range and reconfiguration of the golf course to form a single 18 hole golf course, access and associated external works and reconfiguration and expansion of car parking across the site.

Felicity Collins, Liverpool Council planning officer, said the golf club grounds were a “highly sensitive location” and the designs were “not appropriate”. In addition, Ms Collins said officers were not comfortable from “a conservation point of view.”

In his determination on the plans earlier this month, inspector John Braithwaite, said “the design of the proposed hotel has been carefully considered, would be entirely appropriate for its surroundings, and would be sympathetic to the character of the area.” Mr Braithwaite added how the much criticised glazed elevations “would reflect and enhance the wooded surroundings of the cluster of buildings.”

Stressing the urgent need to safeguard the at-risk elevations and portico, he concluded that the proposed development would not harm the historic or architectural significance of the existing building. It is thought around £15m is being pumped into the scheme which could create around 200 jobs.

Richard Gee, of Roman Summer Associates, planning consultants on behalf of Green Circle, said, “This is a welcome but unsurprising decision endorsing an intelligent and sympathetic design which will be a great enhancement to its setting and the facilities at Allerton Manor. The original refusal was based very much on subjective perception rather than objective planning policy grounds. 

“Green Circle brought together a highly experienced professional team to do justice to this unique site, and their approach has been completely vindicated.”

John Cassell, lead architect and partner at Brock Carmichael Architects, who designed the hotel, said, “We’re delighted we have today received an approval decision to this application, which has in all, been nearly three years in the making.

“It is particularly reassuring that His Majesty’s Planning Inspectorate’s viewpoint and his expert decision echoes almost word for word Brock Carmichael’s original design statement and justification for the scale and disposition of the proposal, plus the use of a glass façade in a woodland setting.”

Mike Hanlon, Green Circle managing director, added, “We are delighted to have secured approvals for the revised golf course masterplan and new clubhouse, and now also for the 66-bed hotel and spa. The hotel scheme will protect the dilapidated Listed Manor House and will facilitate the creation of approximately 200 local jobs through the construction process, with over 120 new jobs being created for the business operation.”

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