Walton Heath to deregister common land26th September, 2013 by Tania Longmire
One of the world’s most famous golf clubs, Walton Heath in Surrey, has applied to the secretary of state for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to convert ‘common land’ near its course into its practice area.
The controversial move could result in a 550-yard long stretch of land, in an area known as Beecham’s Field, being fenced off to the public.
However, as part of the proposal, a nearby area of land that is accessible via a footbridge over a motorway would be registered as common land and be offered as a replacement.
Club secretary Stuart Christie told This is Surrey Today: “As a world class golf venue, we are bereft of quality practice facilities.
“By making this exchange, and using the land as a practice ground, we would address those issues. We have had a lot of support from local people.
“It is important to stress we are not asking to de-register the whole of Beecham’s Field. It is two-thirds, the top end will still be accessible to the public.
“The exchange land is a superior piece of land and it is unquestionably larger by 20 per cent.
“It is further away, but on balance I do believe it is a fair proposal.” he said.
Local resident Gillian Hein has expressed her opposition to the plans though. She said: “There is a lot of opposition, primarily because of the loss of the facility at Beecham’s Field and the fact that the replacement site is so far away and completely different in character.
” A lot of the people who use Beecham’s Field, particularly the elderly and less mobile children, just won’t be able to use it.
“It will be a big loss because the area is well-used by the people of Walton for informal walking, exercising, walking dogs, and practising golf. The replacement land takes another half an hour to get to, and it is sloping. I just don’t think it will be well used.”
Walton Heath hosted the 1981 Ryder Cup and has had several prominent members throughout its history, including Winston Churchill for 55 years. King Edward VIII was once even captain of the club – he joined it after receiving golfing advice from Bernard Darwin, the first president of the Golf Club Managers’ Association.