Brighton’s two council-owned golf courses are up for sale following a decision to explore other uses for them.
The number of people using Hollingbury and Waterhall Golf courses has dwindled in recent years and in June, councillors approved plans to advertise the leaseholds for either golf or other leisure uses such as glamping, events or outdoor activities..
They are also exploring in-house options, specifically rewilding, or allowing nature to take over the land once more.
Councillor Alan Robins, chair of the city’s Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture committee, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to provide a wonderful outdoor experience for our residents and visitors.
“By inviting proposals on long term leases for golf and/or other leisure uses we hope to receive a range of options to give both courses a sustainable future.”
The council has successfully marketed other leisure sites on long term leases which brought forward some interesting proposals. These included the Yellowave Beach Volleyball Centre on the seafront and the Sea Lanes proposal on Madeira Drive.
Hollingbury and Waterhall golf courses are owned by the council and are currently managed externally by MyTime Active a registered charity operating as a social enterprise to promote wellbeing. The contract ends next March.
Participation in golf has declined in recent years. Factors which are considered to be causing the decline include the oversupply of courses, the length of time it takes to play a full 18 hole round (approximately 4 hours), that golf is relatively expensive to play, the increased participation in other recreational opportunities such as cycling and a lack of diversity of golf participants
Over the last eight years season ticket holders have fallen significantly. Season ticket holders provide the core usage for each course and are very important for viability of a course.
In Brighton and Hove there are a large number of courses all competing in a very small geographical area. A nearby course in Hassocks has recently closed and the owners of Haywards Heath golf course are attempting to sell it for development.
Current operator Mytime Active has significant experience of operating a range of golf courses on behalf of local councils and has led a number of initiatives to encourage more participation.
This has included foot golf at Waterhall, improved catering and function facilities at Hollingbury and various golf development initiatives. However the financial benefits of these have not been able to compensate for the drop in golf income.
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