A DEVELOPER for a proposed golf resort could be in place within 12 months, according to Wirral council.
The authority has now started the formal procurement process for the multi-million pound scheme which would see a new “signature” golf course, five star hotel and spa and conference facilities on a 300 acre site in Hoylake.
The project was relaunched by Wirral council during the Ricoh Women’s British Open at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club last September, and the authority said soon afterwards there was a “high level of interest from the private sector” in the scheme.
Wirral council’s head of regeneration and planning, David Ball, said interest had come from well-known national and international developers – “high profile names in the golfing world” – as well as world renowned golf course designers.
Mr Ball said the procurement process would be lengthy and it is likely to be this time next year at the soonest before a final decision on a developer can be made.
Since the first masterplan for the golf resort was drawn up more than six years ago Wirral council has been working with consultants Capita Symonds looking at the landscape of the area along with potential access to the site and possible funding for the scheme and paving the way for planning permission, which would have to be sought by any developer. Around half the land outlined for the golf resort is currently in council ownership.
The golf resort proposal was first put forward in 2006 but the economic downturn saw it fall by the wayside as cash for new developments dried up.
Yet despite the continuing gloomy news about the economy the relaunched project saw around 20 potential investors come forward asking to be kept informed when formal procurement began.
When the proposal was relaunched, Wirral’s director of regeneration Kevin Adderley said the intention was to find new development partners and the cost of the scheme could range from £40m-£70m, but is “only limited by the successful bidder’s aspirations”.
Even before the relaunch the council said it had been contacted by four or five world-recognised organisations making “serious inquiries” about becoming involved.
Mr Ball said: “Expressions of interest have come from high calibre companies. We have never had as high a level of interest as we have at the moment.”
The authority is currently putting together formal documents which outline what they want from the scheme following which interested developers can put forward bids which will be assessed against the criteria.
Mr Ball said: “My target is to have this done within 12 months – that is fairly quick and it could be longer but we are pushing for this.
“The council is fully committed to this project and is seeking to deliver a high class golf resort in Wirral – and has the resources in place to progress this as quickly as possible.”
Wirral council cabinet member for regeneration, Cllr Pat Hackett, said a dedicated group is also going to be put together comprising people “with a range of expertise, knowledge and experience to ensure the golf resort is a success”.
He said: “This scheme will put Wirral on the map internationally. This is the golf coast and this proposal builds on these aspirations.
“It’s a very exciting time in Wirral, with the multi-billion pound Wirral Waters, the success of the massive redevelopment of New Brighton and the forthcoming International Festival of Business.”