Golf course to be turned into housing estate31st January, 2014 by Emma Williams
A local council has controversially put in place plans to convert an entire golf course into a housing estate.
The decision is so unpopular that nearly 100 protesters turned up to jeer the council, which has also been criticised by a prominent Conservative MP, when the decision was made.
Bracknell Forest Council even received 322 letters about its decision to lift a covenant protecting Blue Mountain Golf and Conference Centre’s land from development – of which 321 objected to the proposal. The remaining letter was neutral. This was in addition to a petition containing 2,300 names that opposed the plan.
Bracknell Forest Council, Bracknell Town Council and the then-Berkshire County Council signed an agreement in 1990 that the land which is now Blue Mountain Golf and Conference Centre would remain a green space for at least the next 125 years.
However, 34 of the 40 voting councillors at Bracknell Forest Council have agreed to waive the agreement so that 450 houses, two schools and a football pitch be built in the golf club’s place.
Local MP Adam Afriyie, who has been talked of as a future Conservative Party leader in the national press, said he was “bitterly disappointed” with the “insensitive” decision, and wrote to the council to express his opposition.
“There is, of course, a need for some local development, and this is often welcomed by residents but it is important to ensure that our beautiful area is not under threat. This includes sites such as the Blue Mountain golf course,” he said.
The council initially said it had received no letter from Mr Afriyie, but later apologised when it transpired that it had. However, the letter had no bearing on its decision.
Blue Mountain is operated by Crown Golf.
Matthew Lynwood, property director at Crown Golf, said that the golf club will still be around for many more years.
“There is still an extensive planning process to go through,” he said.
“Realistically, any development – if it proceeds – remains years off. Bracknell Forest Council cannot proceed with the development until it has obtained detailed planning approval. It may take several years for them to get into this position, and there is certainly no guarantee that they will succeed.
“The planning process involves the submitting of formal applications, undertaking consultations with local residents and placing specific and detailed proposals before the planning committee for approval. Ecology, traffic, infrastructure, design and other surveys will all need to be undertaken to accompany an application.
“This process is creating a degree of uncertainty for Blue Mountain’s staff and many loyal customers, but we have a long term lease over the site with our landlord and fully expect that the substantial planning challenges which Bracknell Forest Council will face, against what is likely to be strong local opposition, will extend this process over many years to come.
“Our members, visiting golfers, wedding customers, and meetings / conference planners can rest assured that it is absolutely business as usual at Blue Mountain.”
James Elster, general manager at Blue Mountain Golf & Conference Centre, added: “We have a lot of support from the local community and as a popular part of that community our message to our customers and supporters is simple: any change is years ahead.
“People will be golfing, partying, meeting, and, of course, getting married, right here at Blue Mountain for many years to come.”