Controversial plans to build a housing estate on a Widnes golf course are set to be rejected next month.

More than 2,000 people signed a petition against a proposal to build 249 houses on part of Widnes Golf Club’s Highfield Road course after a campaign led by Kingsway councillor Andrea Wall.

The club had said the housing development was vital to its continuing operation as declining membership had left the golf club in dire financial straits.

By selling half of the current 18-hole course to developers Anwyl Homes, the club hoped to raise enough money to improve its clubhouse and provide a nine-hole course that, the club said, would help increase membership.

But planning officers at Halton Council have recommended rejecting the proposal when it comes before the Development Control Committee on March 2.

In a report prepared for the committee, council planners said the scheme would result in an unacceptable loss of green space while the proposed improvements to the clubhouse and creation of a nine-hole golf course “do not go anywhere near raising the overall amenity value of the greenspace to justify the circa 11ha of residential development being sought by this application”.

The planners added that they were not persuaded by Widnes Golf Club’s claims that the current 18-hole course was surplus to requirements, pointing to an assessment submitted by the club itself that suggested this was not the case.

The council report said: “Widnes is a sizeable town and it is normal for a town of this size to have one, two or maybe three local 18-hole courses.  “If Widnes Golf Club closed as an 18-hole course, Widnes would be in the highly unusual situation of not having an 18-hole course. By comparison, all the other local sizeable towns have at least one 18-hole course, and this is the normal position to be found in the UK.  “Widnes benefits from having an 18-hole course in this location; and its loss would be a significant loss of golfing provision for the town.”

Among the other reasons for refusing permission, the planners said the proposed development would lead to a “significant and unacceptable” increase in traffic on the surrounding roads.

They also said the development would increase the risk that houses on Woodland Avenue would be flooded and would result in the loss of “a significant amount of trees”, including some covered by a tree preservation order.

The Development Control Committee will make a final decision on the plans on March 2, but the planning officers’ recommendation means the committee is likely to reject the proposal.