Media release - issued 01 Nov 2017

Joint panel meeting to consider Southwood consultation results

The results of the public consultation into future options for land at Southwood Golf Course will be considered at a special meeting of Rushmoor Borough Council's Environment and Leisure and Youth Panels next Tuesday, 7 November.

The joint meeting, which starts at 7pm, is the first opportunity that the councillors will have to consider and debate the outcome of the seven-week consultation, which the council carried out in August and September.

The panels will be asked to make a recommendation to the Cabinet, which is due to make a decision on the future of the golf course land at its meeting on Tuesday 12 December. This will follow the presentation of a petition calling for the golf course to stay open at a full meeting of the council on 7 December.

Because of public interest in the consultation, the council is planning to webcast all three meetings on the its website so that people can watch the debate live.

The council consultation asked for public views on the possibility of converting Southwood Golf Course into new natural parkland.

This new parkland would become what is known as Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG), protecting it permanently as public open space and allowing the council to grant planning permission for up to 2,500 homes in the town centres and across the borough. The new town centre homes would, in turn, provide the funding needed to support regeneration, as well as bringing new footfall to these areas.

In total, the council received more than 2,400 responses through its online and paper surveys, of which 62.7% were from people living in Rushmoor. Of those who answered the questions aimed at golfers, 16.9% said they were members of Southwood Golf Club and 72.9% said they had used the golf course in the last 12 months.

Of those who gave a postcode or address in the borough, 50.6% said they would prefer to see the golf course closed and turned into natural open parkland, compared with 49.4% who said they would like to see it kept open.

Overall, 61% of respondents said they would like the golf course to stay open as it is and 39% said they would like to see it turned into natural parkland.

Among the main reasons for wanting to keep the golf course open were that it was affordable, that there were other open spaces around, that the course was well used and that it created a sense of community.

The most popular uses for the golf course land, if it were to become parkland, were as open space for walking and dog walking and nature trails.

Councillor Martin Tennant, Rushmoor Borough Council's Cabinet member for Environment and Service Delivery, said: "When we launched this consultation, we were determined to listen to all views and we feel we have achieved this. The joint panel meeting will give councillors the opportunity to consider the outcome of the consultation and to make a recommendation to the Cabinet. It will be the Cabinet's task to balance all the views given with the wider need to regenerate our town centres and to enable decent homes to be built for local families. "

Councillor Maurice Sheehan, Rushmoor Borough Council's Cabinet member for Leisure and Youth, said: "We feel it has been a comprehensive consultation and we would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to give their views and comments. Throughout the process, we have wanted to be as open and transparent as possible and for this reason, we have now taken the decision to webcast all three meetings so that those who can't attend can view the discussions as they happen."

 
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