A Chorley golf course once set for Wigan Athletic’s new training ground may have found a new future – as a touring caravan site.
That’s the aim for the team at The Laurels at Charnock Richard, which is looking to transform the latter end of the old 18-hole golf course into a caravan park, including 60 touring caravan pitches, six ‘glamping’ pods and two amenity blocks.
Plans have been lodged with Chorley Council by Laurels director Stephen Storey, with fellow director Wayne Bretherton saying the aim is to turn the entire complex into a “high end, bespoke” leisure destination for Chorley and Lancashire.
Speaking to the Guardian, Wayne said: “[Former Wigan owner] Dave Whelan had larger plans but we want more of a natural use of the landscape. We want it to be a multifaceted leisure park.”
Wayne, who took control of the green belt site in March 2017, revealed the team has “invested heavily”, throwing huge resources behind its hospitality facilities, including the restaurant, and then opening a new nine hole, pay-as-you-play golf course on the first nine of the previous Charnock Richard Golf Course.
Grimsargh-resident Wayne explained: “We want to bring high end refined class to the site and the right kind of clients. We want to provide the best facilities and most environmentally friendly possible offerings that we can.”
Part of the “specialised” pro-environment approach is to have dedicated newt ponds that could become Chorley safe havens for the salamanders. The existing trees, ponds, and mounds on the grounds will also be retained.
Mike Linfoot, from the Gypsy and Traveller community living at Heath Paddock in Heath Charnock, has raised questions over the plans.
Mike, who has lived there for a decade, said: “All we want is a fair crack of the whip.”
The community was given a three year temporary extension earlier this month, rather than the five year period requested.
The Linfoots raised concerns over the reduced extension, raising doubts that a permanent Gypsy and Traveller site as part of the Cowling Farm masterplan would not be ready by the end of 2021.
Mr Linfoot added that if the caravan site at the Laurels were to be given permanent status, it would be “blatant” discrimination and he would be prepared to challenge the decision.
He said: “We want somewhere to live, not something for commercial gain.”
Coun Paul Walmsley, who is responsible for planning at Chorley Council, said: “We assess applications against the provisions of the development plan and all material planning considerations are taken into account before any decision is made.
“We have publicised the application in line with the normal procedures and if anyone has any comments we would ask them to put them forward as part of this process.”