Plea to keep London’s last public golf course open

Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim July 16, 2015 12:15

A local campaigner has launched an impassioned plea to keep Beckenham Place Park, London’s last public golf course, open, as its local council is set to close down the venue.

beckenham place park matt brown

Beckenham Place Park’s golf course. Image by Matt Brown

The golf course, which is owned by Lewisham Council, is managed by Glendale Golf, but that contract expires at the end of this year and will not be renewed by the council.

Part of the reason is because Lewisham Council has been provisionally awarded a £4.9 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund, to help restore Beckenham Place Park to its 18th century roots. The scheme involves removing the existing golf course.

David Hansom, 66, a Sydenham resident and secretary of nearby Braeside Golf Club, who stood as a candidate at the recent general election on platform of saving the golf course, said: “The 18th century landscape was designed for the easy lifestyle of the rich. The only time the park has enjoyed any public access has been since the laying out of the golf course. This is the historic public landscape of the park.”

Carol Hope, 58, another campaigner, who is not a golfer, from Lewisham, told Golf Club Management: “The application to the Heritage Lottery Fund to improve the park has been designed around getting rid of the golf course and was supported by flawed data to make the case for under-use of the golf course.

“David got 160 votes in the general election – not bad considering he came to the process late, there was no budget for leaflets and he could not have the name of the party on the ballot papers. Contrast the 160 votes to Lewisham Council’s 175 ‘consultation’ questionnaires, of which only 62 people opted to get rid of the golf course.

“We have two Facebook pages ‘Protect Beckenham Place Park’ is a group of hundreds of members and ‘Save Beckenham Place Park’ a community of several hundred people and a Twitter presence.

“David Hansom has put together three costings for golf course operations – pessimistic, neutral and optimistic, ranging from £113,100 per year from 50 golfers a day to £439,950 from 75 golfers a day.

“It is possible for the council to achieve nearly everything they want in the park using the HLF grant money with the golf course in place. Other than continuing to lobby and raise awareness, there is not an awful lot more we can do.”

A spokesman for the council said: “A plan to restore many heritage features of Beckenham Place Park and make it more attractive to a wide range of local and regional visitors has received £4.9 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery.

“The restoration plans are likely to see the reinstatement of the original lake and an events space.

“The historic core of the park is currently dominated by a public golf course, which was once one of the busiest in the UK but is now used by an average of just 45 golfers a day.”


Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim July 16, 2015 12:15
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  1. Keith July 16, 15:15

    I went for a walk through the park last Thursday (it may have been Friday, can’t quite recall) I entered the park from the private road end near Beckenham Junction, on walking past just the nearest 3 holes, I counted 22 golfers and that was at 9am and within just 3 minutes of entering the park. I wish in hindsight, I’d counted every golfer. Lewisham council are at best scheming or incompetent (probably both) or just outright liars.

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  2. Carole Hope July 16, 13:32

    Please note that the three costings quoted are projected profit margins based on considerably more income. Also, Lewisham Council continue to be disengenuous because they have stated 45 golfers per day when even their own latest figures are 52 per day, which campaigners dispute as an under count anyway. The reference to the historic core of the park is a red herring, there is no historic core to the public park. The public park has always had a golf course in it, in fact it was increased from 9 to 18 holes by London County Council, and the public park has always been a series of differing landscapes. In addition, it would be interesting to know how Lewisham Council equate an events space to so called historic 18th Century landscape. The council’s reference to attracting regional visitors is based on a totally unrealistic aspiration that the park could emulate Greenwich park – Greenwich being an international tourist hub. In any case, the golf course already attracts regional visitors. Nearly all of the council’s plans for Beckenham Place Park can be achieved with the golf course in place and they will be throwing away a viable income stream. Lewisham Council just don’t want the golf course.

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