CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Flixton’s green belt from development have been stunned to discover that the area's William Wroe Golf Course will close in weeks.

Council chiefs have confirmed that the golf course, run by Trafford Leisure, will shut at the end of March.

Another leisure facility, the George H Carnall Leisure Centre in Davyhulme, has also been proposed for closure. This is as part of borough wide plans that will see millions of pounds worth of investment in other leisure centres, including £2.1m improvements at Urmston Leisure Centre.

Residents knew that half of the William Wroe golf course was earmarked for development - as part of the proposals to build on green belt land in the area that they are fighting.

They had believed the remainder the course would continue to operate, though.

But at a recent meeting of a number of residents, ward councillors and leader of the council, Sean Anstee, they discovered that the course was closing.

Council leaders say the decision was taken because the course is not a viable business. No decisions have yet been taken on the future use of the part of the golf course not included in the development blueprint.

They insist the closure will have no bearing on a decision on the proposals to build 750 homes on green belt land in Flixton, as part of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.

Campaigner Michelle McGrath said that although people were taken aback by the closure, the fight to save the green belt land was not affected by it.

She said: "This changes nothing, we keep fighting.

"The council still has to justify exceptional circumstances and prove that infrastructure can be put in place. There is everything still to play for. It is still green belt and all the same arguments still apply.

"We need to unite as a community and work together with our three Flixton ward councillors to ensure that pressure on Trafford Council is maintained."

An Urmston resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "It's very disappointing to hear this news. A lot of people use this course and it's a popular venue for people who can't afford expensive golf club membership.

"I hope the council has followed all the correct procedures in terms of the plans to build homes on part of the course. As far as I'm aware, nothing has been approved yet so to be closing down the course already seems to be jumping the gun.

"It makes it look like a done deal when in fact there is an awful lot of local disquiet about these plans to build on green belt land."

A council spokesperson said: "Trafford Council can confirm that the William Wroe golf facility will close at the end of March.

"A recent review of leisure provision in Trafford was undertaken and a report presented to the executive in November.

"The report highlighted an over-supply of golf facilities in the Flixton area making this facility an unviable business to continue to operate.

"Staff and members of the club have already been informed about the closure.

"This decision does not have an impact on the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework proposals."

The spokesperson added: "In terms of the plans for the William Wroe site - the part that sits outside of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework - we are still considering the options available to us."

The golf course land is part of 218 acres of land that the then Urmston District Council bought in 1935.

Council bosses say a closure date has not yet been set for the George Carnall Leisure Centre, and a decision would be taken after the improvements have been completed at Urmston Leisure centre.

A council spokesperson said: "There are no timelines in place for this at this stage and a phase of consultation would take place first before any decision to close happened."

But resident Adi Greenwood hit out at the move: "What it means is that a heavily used leisure centre is closing and in return £2.1m will be invested in refurbishing Urmston leisure centre.

"While Urmston is also heavily used by residents and the community, it is much smaller with no scope for expansion and an insufficient sized car park. This will certainly mean that our children will lose access to sports and leisure activities which it will not be possible to accommodate in Urmston due to its size.

"Also, yet again the south part of the borough will receive significant investment - a new leisure centre for Altrincham, sizeable investment in Sale - while in the north of the borough we are having services cut."