A huge row has erupted over crown green bowling provisions in Wigan - as a deal was reached to preserve the landmark Pagefield Hotel.
The grade II listed former pub in Gidlow Lane, which has been shut for at least two years, will be transformed into 10 apartments.
One of the main concerns of residents is that we will be putting money into a site which bears no relation to what we have at the PagefieldCoun Sam Murphy
But tandem plans to erect 21 homes and apartments on the bowling green behind the Pagefield have sparked controversy.
Crown green bowlers have been told they will have to relocate to the Great Acre bowling hub in Whelley, as part of a planning agreement.
An estimated 100 players are members of the Pagefield Bowling Club, comprising 12 teams, and there are a number of other casual bowlers.
Coun Stephen Dawber, who represents Wigan West ward, told a planning committee meeting local residents faced taking two buses to reach the Whelley site.
He added: “Residents’ social and physical welfare will be affected by this decision.
“The proposed new green and is not maintained to the same high standard as Pagefield.”
Coun Dawber said it was difficult to understand how the council had allowed the three bowling greens at Mesnes Park to deteriorate to the point where they are no longer playable.
Richard Pike, speaking on behalf of the applicants, said the development had been drawn up following months of discussions with the borough council’s planning department.
He told councillors the Pagefield was currently “in a very poor state of repair” and detrimental to the surrounding area.
Mr Pike said funding had been offered to help the Pagefield Bowling Club to relocate to Great Acre, where a green would be upgraded and extra facilities provided for members.
The developer confirmed that bowlers could continue to use the existing green while the main hotel was being redeveloped.
Several residents had also wrote to the council to welcome the fact that the Pagefield, which has been targeted by vandals and arsonists in recent months, was going to be overhauled.
Coun Sam Murphy said: “One of the main concerns of residents is that we will be putting money into a site which bears no relation to what we have at the Pagefield.
“Certainly those people who use the Pagefield are highly unlikely that they will go up and use the greens at Great Acre.”
Principal planning officer Dave Rawsthorne said Sport England had not objected to the loss of the green after an assessment by one of the council’s green spaces officers demonstrated that extra investment could be secured for Great Acre,
Proposing the plans be approved, Coun Janet Prescott said it was clear the financial contribution created by the additional buildings, to the rear of the hotel, would help to safeguard the future of the Pagefield building.