RESUBMITTED plans to convert a former Chester village golf course clubhouse into a residential property with an outdoor swimming pool and tennis court have been approved.

The proposal on land at the old Mollington Golf Club, lodged on behalf of the Harworth Group, was rubber stamped by Cheshire West and Chester Council yesterday (October 13).

The change of use application was a resubmission of a previous proposal which was granted planning permission back in 2017 and has since lapsed.

Harworth Group had controversial plans to build six homes on the site off Townfield Lane, which closed more than four years ago, rejected over the summer.

In a report recommending approval, case officer Steven Holmes said: "The proposal involves minor alterations to the building including new windows and doors but the works would not amount to major construction.

"The reuse of the clubhouse and greenkeepers buildings, which are of permanent and substantial construction, would preserve the openness of the Green Belt and would not conflict with the purpose of including land in Green Belt. It is considered that the change of use of the buildings would fall within the re-use exception.

"An outdoor swimming pool is proposed. This is an engineering operation on land that is currently laid as hardstanding and as such the impact of the operation to create the swimming pool would be neutral and therefore wouldn't conflict with the purposes of the Green Belt and would preserve openness.

"The proposal also involves the formation of a tennis court, again on an existing area of hard surfacing. The surfacing would have no impact upon openness."

He added: "The development involves the reuse of the clubhouse and would likely result in the destruction of the identified roosts. An offence is therefore likely under Regulation 43(1) of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended) and therefore a licence is required under Regulation 55 of the same. Licences are granted by Natural England.

"Natural England will apply three tests in determining whether a licence should be granted. With regards the 'first test', the proposal would enable the efficient use of brownfield land and promote the sustainable reuse of an existing building.

"It is considered that the development would result in overriding social benefits and beneficial consequences of primary importance for the environment. The 'first test' is therefore satisfied.

"With regards the 'second test', the conversion of the building requires internal works and human habitation which would result in the loss of the roosts. There are no reasonable alternatives to the loss of the roosts within the building. The 'second test' is therefore satisfied.

"With regards the 'third test', the assessments set out a mitigation strategy incorporating such a range of measures. Subject to the proposed mitigation measures being carried out, it is considered that the third test is met.

"In view of the above assessment, the three derogation tests are satisfied it is considered likely that Natural England would grant a licence."

The same tests would apply to the two ponds on the application site which will be preserved following development, but an area of terrestrial habitat would be lost.

Again, the council says the three derogation tests are satisfied it is considered likely that Natural England would grant a licence.

Ward councillor Simon Eardley stated: "This application is the resubmission (I believe in effect a 'like-for-like') of a lapsed planning approval at this site.

"I have no concerns regarding it and would comment that it is my preferred 'solution' to the development of this location."