From a correspondent:
A development proposal adjacent to Woodbury Common for 14 “holiday lodges” could be built on a section of the golf course created by the owners of Greendale Business Park.
The Hotel and Golf course was sold some years ago to Nigel Mansell and two years ago, sold again to a c company known as the “Club Company” which operates 13 Country Clubs in the UK, who are owned by a London Based private equity group “Epiris”
The planning application documents outlines how falling numbers of golfers across England is forcing clubs to diversify and that it is necessary to attract golfing markets, such as golf breaks, through ventures like the proposed holiday accommodation.
The developers view:
It also says that with the golfing sector under pressure with declining membership and participation forcing many clubs out of business, they must look at new ways to attract golf societies and other groups looking for golfing holidays.
One way to do this is through investing in new accommodation and the lodges would add to the existing hotel on the site.
The statement explains how the number of registered golfers has dropped eight per cent in the last four years. Adults playing golf has fallen 27 per cent between 2007 and 2016, and juniors playing golf weekly have dropped five per cent since 2014.
“In clubs where membership is growing, clubs have taken positive steps to address the issues and are catering for a range of different needs and are developing facilities to broaden income streams and become part of the community.”
“The proposed changes at Woodbury Park Hotel and Golf Club aim to follow a similar pattern, providing further golf accommodation in order to attract more golfers from a wider national market.”
“Given the declining popularity of playing golf in England and in order to maintain the business, it is necessary to attract golfing markets, such as golf breaks, through the proposed holiday accommodation. This will allow the club to attract more golfers and more visitors to the bars, restaurant, health club and spa, to generate a vital additional income stream.”
However, the location chosen to build these lodges is next to a very important historic and environmentally important ancient “Green lane” known as Walkidons Way.
The Conservation view.
A local conservation group describes the location:
“Walkidons Way is a rare example in our locality of a green lane – most of the rest having been tarmaced. It is a public access route and runs between Hogsbrook Farm at its north-western end and Woodbury Common at Woodbury Park to the south-east. Along the way it passes beside Rockham Wood – a (private) ancient wood that is a designated County Wildlife Site.
A green lane can be defined as an un-metalled track with field boundaries on either side. These boundaries may be banks, hedges or woodland edges, often with features such as ditches – all of which can be seen along the length of Walkidons Way. The hedges and woodland edges here are particularly rich in examples of hedge-laying and coppicing of great age, and possibly also an ancient boundary trees.
In terms of bio-diversity, green lanes are mini-landscapes with their own micro-climate and ecology, due to the combination of the track and its boundary features. They may be more botanically species-rich than a single hedge, act as wildlife corridors, and their sheltered conditions are of great importance, for example, to butterfly populations.
Historically, Walkidons Way linked Greendale Barton – formerly an important farm on the site of the present Greendale Business Park – to the Common. This route adopted from at least Saxon times, as a drover road, for moving stock between Greendale and the Common.
The former agricultural land here has been much altered for leisure use, and the lane now passes between golf courses at the higher end, and fishing lakes lower down, which were both created during the 1990s. The Woodbury Park complex, which opened in 1995, was a highly controversial development at the time, but has become a generally accepted element of the modern landscape.
The track and its verges are unfortunately suffering degradation from modern vehicular traffic, but Walkidons Way offers a beautiful walk of very different character to that of most of our local lanes, to the open spaces of the Common.”
It will be interesting to see if the need of “big business” will win over the concern to preserve an ancient way.
The Planning can be viewed on the EDDC planning website under the reference 19/2145/FUL