Southwood Golf Course consultation

Following consultation, the Cabinet has agreed that Southwood Golf Course should be converted into new natural open parkland.

Cabinet decision on the future of Southwood Golf Club

The Cabinet agreed on Tuesday 12 December that the golf course should close and the land be converted into new natural open parkland to enable new homes to continue to be built in the borough and the town centres to be regenerated.

The Cabinet delegated power to the Chief Executive to decide the date of closure of the golf course and asked that a management plan be brought forward in due course for the new parkland, which will become Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG).

In the meantime, the Cabinet asked council officers to continue to talk with the Government and Natural England in an attempt to address the issue and for arrangements be made to provide support and advice to residents who use the course about other options available locally.

Our consultation on Southwood

We ran a public consultation from Monday 7 August to Friday 29 September. Thanks to all who gave your views.

Timetable following the consultation

Videos of our meetings on Southwood

Because of public interest in the consultation, we webcast all three meetings. You can view the videos from the webcasts.

Our proposals for Southwood

Golfers teeing off at Southwood Golf Course Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser windowWe consulted on the possibility of converting Southwood Golf Course into new natural open parkland.

This would open up the area to become around 50 hectares of green space for all our residents to enjoy, replacing the golf course.

Together with Southwood Woodland and other green open space nearby, this would create a large country park area, offering activities including walking, cycling, trim trails, natural play structures and a community orchard.

Aerial view of Southwood Golf Course Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

New green space, housing across the borough and town centre regeneration

The new natural parkland would become what is known as a Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG).

Southwood Woodland As Rushmoor sits within the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area, which protects ground-nesting birds on local heathlands, housing developers must, by law, provide, or contribute towards, alternative green space for their residents to use before the council can grant them planning permission. These are called SANGs.

Locally, Southwood Woodland, Hawley Meadows and Rowhill Nature Reserve are already SANGs.

Permanent protection of land as green public open space

Being a SANG permanently protects the land as green public open space, meaning it would never be built on. It also means that we would use developers' contributions to pay for its creation and upkeep.

New homes and town centre regeneration

Importantly, Natural England says the SANG would allow us to grant planning permission for around 2,500 new homes to be built in Aldershot and Farnborough town centres and elsewhere across the borough, as identified in the Rushmoor Local Plan.

Town centre flats In turn, the new town centre homes, particularly flats above new shop units, would provide funding to help support the much-needed regeneration of the town centres themselves, as well as bringing new footfall to the areas. This will only be achievable if additional SANG space can be created.

We looked for other land that could become a SANG, including working with neighbouring councils and other landlords, but because Rushmoor is so small and urban, our options are extremely limited.

About the golf course

The golf course was opened in the late 1970s as a nine-hole course and became an 18-hole course in 1988.

Most of the rounds of golf played there are by casual golfers and visitors and it is popular with those who use it. The club itself has around 175 members, of which about half live in Rushmoor.

In recent years, however, overall use of the golf course has reduced significantly from 40,000 to 25,000 rounds a year and it now costs the council about £40,000 a year to subsidise it.

There are a number of alternative golf courses within a ten-mile radius of Southwood where golfers can turn up and play without being members.

About the consultation and the results

The consultation included an online and paper survey, two public drop-in sessions and a public open meeting.

You can read the report on the consultation results in the agenda for our joint meeting of the Environment and Leisure and Youth Panels.

During the consultation, we also received a lot of questions about the golf course and the proposals. We have collated all these questions and our answers into a questions and answers sheet:

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