Conflict of interest accusation for golf plans

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 15, 2012 11:12

A local council that wants to build a championship golf course while it converts a nearby golf club into a housing development has been accused of a conflict of interests.

Eastleigh Borough Council in Hampshire has earmarked almost all of Macdonald Botley Park Hotel’s 18-hole golf course and surrounding area on Boorley Green to have 1,400 new homes built on it, to meet the area’s housing shortage. Landowner Macdonald Hotels has stated it is in favour of promoting the development of the site.

However, the local authority is hoping to buy the Rose Bowl cricket stadium for £6.5 million and build an 18-hole championship golf course, along with a hotel and conference centre, there. This, according to the Botley Parish Action Group (BPAG), which has been set up to oppose the plans, demonstrates a conflict of interest.

“The proposed development of the Boorley Green golf course is a conflict of interest for Eastleigh Borough Council which is seeking to invest in a business venture to build another hotel, spa and golf course at the Rose Bowl stadium,” said a spokeswoman.

“This would be in direct competition with the hotel, spa and golf course at Boorley Green. By removing the Boorley Green golf course, this would dramatically reduce the competition to the council’s Rose Bowl venture.

“The development would also destroy a thriving recreational, business and tourist facility, which provides employment for up to 120 people at peak times and there would be a significant ecological, environmental and landscape impact.”

A survey of Boorley Green residents found that 65 per cent use the golf course for recreational facilities and 98 per cent oppose it being converted into housing.

One said: “It would be a shame if the golf course was to be affected by this. There aren’t many decent golf courses around this area and to lose Botley Park to more housing would be a shame. Golf courses do not only provide enjoyment and exercise, there are also walks around the footpaths on the course to enjoy the scenery, wildlife and peace and quite, bar the odd shout of fore!”

Council leader Keith House said the borough needed more than 500 homes a year over the next 17 years to meet needs. “There are difficult decisions to make but it is important that we face up to our responsibilities,” he said.

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 15, 2012 11:12
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