Historical golf club is saved

Historical golf club is saved

A 130-year-old golf course has been saved from potential closure after a planning application was approved, offsetting the planned HS2 railway routed directly through the property.

Whittington Heath Golf Club was expected to close its doors when plans revealed the railway line would bisect the course, eliminating five golf holes as well as a club house dating back to the 18th century.

New plans, approved by Lichfield District Council, will preserve land unaffected by HS2, as well as create five new golf holes and a new club house.

Publicly accessible ecological areas including wetlands and environmental offset land will also be part of the project.

Club captain Pete Espin said: "After consultation with members about the course of action we should take, we made a conscious decision to work with HS2 and preserve 130 years of golf and a much longer history for the overall site.

"We could simply have accepted the HS2 route as a signal for the course’s closure but we’ve worked closely with them and we’re delighted with the outcome under the circumstances."

30-year member, Kelvin Edwards, who led the preliminary discussions that created the strategy for re-development said: "Throughout the process, we liaised with local action groups, councils and national government officials to collaborate positively with HS2.

"In accepting the intended path of the railway, we’ve been able to reach a solution for both the club and HS2 which preserves the future and also secures environmental benefits for the local community. It’s been a difficult journey but one we feel has been entirely worthwhile."

Committee member Keith Ridgway, who spent a career in the construction industry, took over the project in the latter stages. He said: "The basis of ‘equivalent re-instatement’ means the level of our current facilities will be maintained on a new-for-old basis but we’re still losing an historic building as well mature heathland as a consequence. So the ecological element has been an important factor in the plans.

"While the new golf holes will be constructed to replicate the traditional heathland environment, there’ll also be around 10 hectares of heather and acid grass land, four eco ponds, additional hedgerow and woodland along with public access.

"The status of the ecological land is preserved by a binding agreement and the Golf Club is responsible for maintaining it as such on behalf of HS2."