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A 126 year-old Berkshire golf course faces closure after a council approved plans to build 2,000 new homes on the site. The Maidenhead Golf Club course, which has been a feature of the town since the club’s formation in 1896, has moved a step closer to closure following the decision at the full council meeting on Tuesday. However, while the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead's planning manager explained that the plan is necessary to meet local housing needs, the proposal drew opposition in the form a 150-person strong demonstration.
The course, which stands close to the town’s railway station, has been the subject of development proposals for years. In 2016, the club agreed to relinquish its 24-year lease on the 130-acre site, bringing development plans a step closer. Meanwhile, there was an earlier demonstration outside the town hall last November with around 500 people protesting. At that protest, campaign organiser Tina Quadrino cited environmental concerns, saying: "We need a borough local plan that puts the environment front and centre of everything that we do. A borough local plan that protects our natural resources and recognises the real value of green space in terms of its benefit to our health, our wellbeing, as well as to climate change."
Despite the opposition, the par 69 course remains part of a plan to build at least 14,240 new homes in the town over the next 12 years. Cabinet member for planning David Coppinger, who previously warned that the council would need to release greenbelt in the countryside if the proposal failed said: "This is a very difficult decision and I know a lot of councillors and residents don't agree with it, but it was the right decision for the borough going forward."
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Conservative MP for Maidenhead Theresa May said: “Mrs May has been in contact with the council on numerous occasions to relay constituent fears about the potential impacts of the development. However, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead have an essential duty to build new homes. Mrs May has received reassurances that the council will continue to support biodiversity throughout the borough and part of the development will be set aside as green space.
Despite these assurances, many people remain unconvinced. One protester, Tom Wigley, echoed concerns raised at the earlier protest, saying: "Air quality in Maidenhead is bad, but you build all those houses, it's just going to get worse." Meanwhile, another protester, Fiona Allen, expressed similar concerns, saying: "We all know that it's an environmental disaster, it's an absolute joke you know, with what's happening with climate change."
The news comes on the heels of a threat of closure facing two other courses, the Wirral-based Hoylake Municipal Golf Course and Brackenwood Golf Club, due to budget cuts.
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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