Published: 15:55, 29 January 2018
A golf course is set to close, with documents showing the council looks likely to sell the site for housing.
Deangate Ridge Golf Course is currently being promoted by Medway Council as possible housing development, just weeks after golfers and wildlife lovers were outraged at work being done to the course.
Critics raised concerns after tractors and other landscaping vehicles were used to destroy the natural woodland surrounding the course in Duxcourt Road, Hoo.
The work was called seasonal maintenance, but some believed it was done to pave the way for a planning application after a £35 million bid for the site.
Medway Council said at the time that no offer or decision had been made.
However, a document on Medway Council’s website detailing responses to the Medway Local Plan states: “Medway Council as landowner supports the promotion of the land at Deangate Ridge Golf Course and Sports Complex Hoo, for inclusion within the Medway Local Plan as a housing allocation."
Dave Harris, head of planning at the local authority, said: “As part of the Local Plan preparation process, the government requires the council to consider a wide range of options and development opportunities across the Medway area and we are encouraged to go to landowners as part of that process.
"The council, as a landowner, is one of those consultees as part of this process.
"This was a response from the council’s asset management team and it is being considered along with all other responses as part of the Local Plan process. We will be going out to consultation on the next draft and sites shortly.
"No discussions have been held with developers nor have any decisions been made.”
However, KentOnline has learnt this afternoon that the council is asking members at next Tuesday's cabinet meeting to vote to close the site.
The cabinet papers include a comment from a report which states: “Due to falling participation rates in golf, owners and operators finding it increasingly difficult to sustain the operation in the face of falling membership numbers and revenues.
"There is no evidence of need for increased golf provision in the area.
"Indeed, the council should consider the long-term sustainability of the golf facilities it operates, in particular Deangate Ridge Golf Course, which operates at a revenue deficit and provides for a relatively small number of members.
"There is a range of alternative affordable provision within and outside the area, with seven courses within a 20 minute drive from Deangate Ridge Golf Course.
"Many of these offer golf on a pay and play basis, for non-members, at comparable prices to those of Deangate Ridge."
The report sets out a proposal to close Deangate Ridge on the basis of the ongoing financial instability.
It also sets out a proposal to begin detailed planning for the development of a new sports centre on the Hoo Peninsula, which will meet the modern needs of people who live there.
The report concludes: "Therefore, taking into account the financial situation of the golf facility at Deangate Ridge, and the opportunity to consider a new sports facility, it is recommended that the golf course and associated golf facilities are closed on 31 March 2018. "The remainder of the sports facilities at Deangate Ridge will remain open."It is estimated closing the course will save £78,829.
In addition to the loss of a habitat for local wildlife, people also feared for its future.
Just last week, David Williams, 57, from Rochester, who uses the course frequently, said: “Golf is one of the few competitive sports played by people of all ages.
“With an aging population, the loss of the golf course will have an adverse impact on the health and wellbeing of those who wish to remain active in middle age and in later life.”
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