Golf could give way to glamping on council-owned courses

Golf may be replaced by glamping at Waterhall or Hollingbury following a proposed review of how the council uses the land.

A report publishes this week says since 2010 season ticket holder numbers have halved at both golf courses, which have been leased since 2010 on a ten-year contract by social enterprise Mytime Active.

The report going before next week’s meeting of the city council’s Tourism, Development and Culture committee asks councillors to consider future long-term leases for either golf or “other leisure use”.

It said: “The future of the courses needs serious consideration due to the challenging financial position experienced by the operator during the current contract, which commenced on the 1st April 2010.

“Before the current management arrangements were in place the courses were operated ‘in house’ by Brighton and Hove City Council.

“When the courses were operated by the council a subsidy was required. By transferring the two courses to an external operator the subsidy was converted to an income stream for the council.”

The first and preferred option going before the committee is to market both sites offering 25 year leases.

One or both would kept as a golf course with the potential for other uses such as outdoor activity and education centres, camping, glamping, a country visitors centre, or an events venue.

A second option is for a ten-year management contract as currently operated.

The third option is to operate both courses in-house.

Finally a fourth option would be to market both courses on a long-term lease for golf only.

Both sites have financial challenges and the Sport and Leisure Consultancy which was commissioned to report on the issues in 2018, found Hollingbury Park is better placed to continue as a golf course.

The report describes golf as in decline due to an oversupply of courses, it is an expensive game to play and takes four hours for an 18 hole round.

There are another four club courses in Brighton and Hove, as well as many within a 15 mile radius.

In the last few years Hassocks course has closed to make way for a housing development and Haywards Heath, says the report, is due to do the same.

In the report Hollingbury Park is described as a better course for beginners with “more forgiving” landscape.

It also has better transport links as it is just off Ditchling Road on one of the main routes into central Brighton.

Steep hills at Waterhall make it unsuitable for electric golf buggies.

During the recent city council elections the Liberal Democrats had a policy of building 1,500 houses on the Hollingbury Park as part of its manifesto.

The Tourism, Development and Culture Committee discusses the proposals when it meets at Hove Town Hall in public from 4pm on Thursday 20 June.

  1. Carrie Hynds Reply

    I very much hope the council consider social housing as part of their consideration for other uses. We have a housing crisis, not a glamping crisis!

    • Chris Reply

      Not sure it’s the council decision there.. Waterhall is in the South Downs national park authority (SDNPA) planning boundary. I doubt building housing aligns to SDNPA objectives of protecting and promoting greenspace.

  2. Ally Reply

    “Before the current management arrangements were in place the courses were operated ‘in house’ by Brighton and Hove City Council. Yes, STOP outsourcing and keep green spaces for people in B&H.

  3. Kristina Banham Reply

    Thought we were supposed to be encouraging physical exercise not cow-towing to lounge lizards……………… such a shame

  4. Tom Reply

    The Hollingbury Park site is a green artery used by hundreds of local walkers every day. Keeping it open to the public is essential, any of the outdoor activities suggestions would be good. As a golf course it is a huge drain on natural resources and damaging to the environment. It would be a difficult and expensive site to build on and we should be looking at brown fill sites not our diminishing green spaces.

    • Geoff Reply

      How is the golf course a ‘huge drain on natural resources and damaging to the environment’?

    • Andrew Reply

      Golf damaging to the environment! Hardly! Is all relative of course!
      Golf courses are wonderful green spaces and hardly an eyesore! No need to build anymore but we should preserve them, think of ways to improve them and not destroy what we have

  5. bradly Reply

    more housing needed in both brown and green sites =

  6. Kevin Reply

    Well said Geoff.
    Golf courses are some of most beautiful green spaces on the planet. Well kept, managed and enhance the natural geological aspects of the ground they cover.

  7. Andrew Reply

    Keep these wonderful green spaces for golf please.

  8. Valerie Chisholm Reply

    The golf courses are protected areas and are not open to building houses, as it is designated D2, thankfully. They offer one of the few open spaces where anyone may walk or play golf. So many areas previously had footpaths and access for all, now have been closed due to private companies setting up requesting that public Rights of Way be closed. Let’s not let this happen to Hollingbury Golf Course and the Mount.

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