North Worcs Golf Club bosses vow to consult residents

By Beth Sharp Monday 10 March 2014 Updated: 13/03 13:30

NORTH Worcestershire Golf Club (NWGC) has announced a public consultation will be held in response to residents' concerns over future development on the land it currently occupies.

It comes after a petition of 448 names was submitted to Birmingham City Council amidst a decision by 80 per cent of the golf club's shareholders who voted to investigate alternate uses for the site.

Director Andrew Lamb, from property consultant Harris Lamb, which is assisting the club in negotiating its future, said the site had become unsustainable.

He added the club, which costs more than £350,000-a-year to run, had seen a 34 per cent decline in adult male membership in the last 12 months. There were more than 400 members in 2005, but last year, there was just 276. Membership equates to 80 per cent of the club's income and that fall led to it losing £130,000.

Mr Lamb said politicians in the area knew for more than a year the club had problems but, he claimed, despite promises of help, nothing had happened and liquidation was looming. That led to it talking to Bloor Homes - a move that caused controversy in the area.

Coun Andy Cartwright, Coun Ian Cruise and Coun Jess Philips, along with Northfield MP Richard Burden, have been campaigning to ensure residents' views about NWGC are heard.

Coun Cartwright claimed, during a meeting last year, the club's management staff said the site was not up for sale and, as a team, the councillors and MP had successfully rallied for it to be removed from the Birmingham Plan, which detailed areas of the city earmarked for new homes.

Coun Cartwright said a housing development would put a strain on the local community's traffic management, schools and health providers and could cause flooding problems.

He added: "Residents need to be listened to as they have expressed how any development will have a negative impact on their lives.

"The Labour team is working and supporting multi-education providers to work on a community vision which could work in partnership with the golf club.

"The Birmingham planning department has assured us it would oppose any housing planning application linked to the golf course at this stage."

But, Mr Lamb said, the club wanted to work closely with the developer on a proposal to benefit the whole community and not just the club's members.

He said board members had sought assurances a significant part of the 80 acre plus site would be used for community facilities, alongside housing.

"This site is not greenbelt and is in a highly sustainable location, offering easy access to major public transport links, employment and educational facilities.

"The club understands the wariness of local people over any sale but the NWGC is determined to get a deal which really benefits residents in the area.

"Extensive consultation with residents and stakeholders will be arranged and publicised shortly.

"As soon as dates and times are agreed, these events will be well promoted to ensure all local people have an opportunity to view and give feedback on the proposals," he added.

He said, among the attractions mooted for the site, had been playing fields, footpaths, cycle-ways and extensive public open space which could be enjoyed by all local people.

Duncan MacKay, Bloor Homes Western's land director, said he was looking forward to meeting as many residents as possible throughout the consultation with NWGC which was being launched to receive feedback on proposals and hear about what facilities local people wanted.

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