Plans for a golf driving range and junior academy centre on land at Wirswall near Whitchurch have been given the go-ahead.

PGA professional Rob Ashbrook applied to Cheshire East Council for permission to set up the 16-bay driving range and junior golf centre on an agricultural plot of land sited off Bradley Green Lane.

The proposal also includes the construction of a reception/office and driving range building, car park and site access, and the installation of associated flood lighting.

Sixty-three people had written to the council expressing their support for the scheme, 19 had objected.

But members of the strategic planning board were told by local resident Peter Chapman: “Not one of the neighbours… have written in support of this.

Whitchurch Herald: The site is off Bradeley Green LaneThe site is off Bradeley Green Lane

“It’s a residential area. The proposed hours – 9am to 9pm– seven days a week are completely unacceptable.”

Mr Chapman also said there were significant highways issues.

Mr Ashbrook told the committee the proposal offered social and economic benefits.

“It also offers an inclusive space for individuals of all ages and abilities to engage in physical activity, enjoy the outdoors and learn a new skill,” he said.

Cllr Janet Clowes (Wybunbury, Con) said: “I don’t have a problem with the principal of a driving range of this relatively small size, but I think needs to be seen in context of its location, which is highly rural.”

Whitchurch Herald: Cllr Janet ClowesCllr Janet Clowes

She said the A49 was a ‘difficult’ road, Bradley Green Lane was narrow and 40-50 cars a day was a lot when people weren’t used to that.

“Add to that, you’re going to have lighting there – light spreads a long way in the countryside and these are probably areas at the moment of low light pollution,” said Cllr Clowes.

Macclesfield councillor Mary Brooks (Lab) said she was satisfied around the amenity.

“In terms of the location, it’s not ideal but we need to take into balance the fact that customers are driving a lot further [to Northwich] to carry out their activity so, in terms of carbon emissions, they’re not driving as far.”

She said the proposal would benefit the local community and people wishing to learn to play golf.

Cllr Stewart Gardiner (Knutsford, Con) said he was concerned about the impact the light would have on the neighbouring wildlife sanctuary.

He moved the application be approved but the hours of operation be changed from 9am to 6pm in winter because of the lighting.

This was seconded by committee chair Cllr Brian Puddicombe (Lab), but both later withdrew the amended proposal after concerns raised about the effect this would have on the business.

Congleton councillor Heather Seddon (Congleton, Lab) said: “I think if you reduce those hours of operation then that makes that more likely the business will fail.”

Cllr Brooks said there was already a condition about wildlife sensitive lighting so ‘my worry is if we do restrict the hours it’s restricting the opportunity of those young people to take part in those activities’.

She proposed the application be accepted as presented with opening hours from 9am to 9pm.

This was seconded by Cllr Seddon and nine councillors voted for approval and two voted against.