Municipal golf course under threat

Council plans to give Bradley Park in West Yorkshire over to 2000+ houses

Bradley Park

Bradley Park, the only municipal golf course in Kirklees, West Yorkshire is at threat from a council proposal to build 2,000+ homes on the site, despite it being set on greenbelt land.

Bradley Park golf course

Bradley Park golf course

The municipal golf course at Bradley Park in West Yorkshire has been in existence since 1977 and has earned a reputation as one of the finest municipal facilities in the country. It has been host to a number of championships over the years including professional events featuring Mark James, Howard Clark and Paul Way. The facility boasts an 18-hole course, a 9-hole par-3 course, a 15-bay driving range and a footgolf facility. There’s also a popular clubhouse, pro-shop and academy. During 2015, there were over 100,000 usages of the facilities.

This is a facility that looks to grow the game and reach out to as many new and young golfers as possible. As an indication of that; Bradley Park recently received the GolfMark award from England Golf – the official seal of approval for clubs working proactively to secure the future of the game.

Last April, Kirklees Council handed control of the facility to a charitable trust and this led to investment and positivity. But since then, the council has included the site in their housing development plan and the golf course is under very real threat of being paved over.

Kirklees planners have attempted to justify the decision to develop on the golf course by citing studies that suggest there is an over-provision of golf in the area, and that there are alternatives for those who currently play their golf at Bradley Park.

“But they're principally considering club membership,” said Bradley Park member Gary Ward. “Bradley Park is a municipal course and, although the club has 200 members it’s a separate entity and there are a large number of casual players who use the facility as a cost-effective way of enjoying the sport. Municipal golf is the lifeblood of our sport and this is the only one in the area. If this is taken away, many won’t find alternatives at private members’ clubs, they’ll simply stop playing altogether.”

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Bradley Park has always been a profitable business and has always been a contributor to, rather than a drain on the Kirklees Council coffers. At a time when people are keen to play golf but less able to afford or justify private club memberships, and when there is a desire to provide recreational facilities that encourage people to stay active and to be sociable, it’s incredible that the council would consider scrapping this facility – the only municipal golf in the area.

“This issue of course is money,” says Gary Ward. “Yes, there’s an opportunity for the council to a fast short term buck by giving this land over to building. But at what cost?”

Bradley Park has been working extremely hard to fight the council proposals through a variety of channels. They are working with their MP Barry Sheerman and have contacted the newly formed All-Party Parliamentary Golf Group in Westminster. There’s a Save Bradley Park facebook page and work is ongoing to prove there are significant environmental reasons why the site is so important, with it being home to a population on wild deer, rare orchids, bats and other protected species.

It’s a travesty that a popular and thriving facility such as this could be threatened in this way. Municipal golf is at the backbone of the sport in this country as it allows inclusive participation and counters elitism. For the council to suggest that all those who enjoy the facility at Bradley Park will be able to continue playing at private members’ clubs in the area displays a lack of understanding of the sport.

To object to the proposed development, please send an email to Objections must be in before 1st February.

There’s also an online petition you can sign

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?