Another golf course saved by the participation surge

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 26, 2021 07:59

A golf club in Sussex has been saved from closure partly because of the surge in participation during the pandemic.

Plans were unveiled last year for municipal venue Rookwood Golf Course to be converted into 1,100 homes.

However, according to the Crawley Observer, the plans received a local backlash, which led to Horsham District Council revising them several times, including reducing the number of homes, redesigning the scheme and promising more green enhancements. This, though, did not stop an online petition opposing the development progressing, and it has now topped 12,000 signatures.

The council has now said it is not considering Rookwood for development in the local plan at this time, partly because so many people are now playing golf.

Tony Hogben, deputy leader and cabinet member for communication, Horsham town and parking, said: “The council is now under new leadership and enhancing our green spaces and listening to public consultation are vital in building trust in our leadership.

Rockwood Golf Course. Image from Facebook

“Not allocating Rookwood in the local plan is the wish of the public at this stage, following a year that has seen increased golf activity. Your councillors have listened.

“It is vital that we engage with local groups and find out how we can best use the council owned land at Rookwood. We are committed to listening and engaging over the next two years before making any longer term commitments on the future of Rookwood.”

The decision follows a recent change of leadership with a new council leader and cabinet member for planning and development installed in May.

As the owner of the site, Horsham District Council plans to open a more in-depth consultation to gather more ideas and better understand the needs of residents and users, states the Crawley Observer.

The new consultation would see the overall site looked at in more depth to explore a broader and more varied range of potential leisure and recreational facilities, not just limited to golf.

The council says Rookwood has ‘exceptional potential’ to deliver benefits such as rewilding and enhancing the nature reserve and it is committed to protecting the unique environment there with sustainability, biodiversity and protection of native plants and wildlife ‘at the heart of their thinking’.

However the council also said the ‘possibility of much needed affordable homes on part of the site could also be considered in the future’, but the principles of any future proposals would be to enhance the green spaces and to deliver a site for broader community use.

This is the latest of, now, several municipal golf clubs to be saved due to the rise in participation during the pandemic.

For example, Stockwood Park Golf Centre and Bulwell Hall Golf Course were both earmarked for closure in order to save their local authorities money, but both have now been rescued, Pewit Golf Course didn’t reopen in 2020 but did in June 2021, and Camperdown Golf Course, a venue that a council agreed to close in 2019, is now set to reopen.

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 26, 2021 07:59
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