Golf centre plans end up in bunker
CONTROVERSIAL plans to revamp a village golf course have been dealt a final blow.
Bosses at Keele Golf Centre had appealed against a decision made by Newcastle Borough Council not to grant planning permission for the works.
The proposals for the nine-hole golf course involved importing 80,000 tonnes of material to create mounds and a more varied course.
But now a Government planning inspector has dismissed the appeal and backed the council's decision after listening to evidence from both sides at a two-day hearing.
A spokesman for Keele Golf Centre Limited said: "The company is disappointed with the decision but life goes on."
The centre, on Keele Road, opened in 2005.
But in the original planning application for the changes, the performance of the course was described as 'very disappointing'.
It was claimed the revamped course would provide greater interest for accomplished golfers, help beginners to keep their balls on the fairways, and attract more learners and female players.
The council threw out the plans after fears over public safety and highway safety were raised.
It said the project would be over-development in terms of the volume of material being imported.
In his ruling, after weighing up evidence from the hearing in July, Government planning inspector Stephen Roscoe accepted the development would bring some economic growth to the area.
And he acknowledged it would improve the quality of the course and accessibility of the sport, as well as boost the viability and future security of the centre.
But Mr Roscoe ruled the impact the development would have on the greenbelt outweighed those factors.
He said: "The harm to the greenbelt from the inappropriate nature of the development and the absence of security in terms of restoration attracts substantial and very considerable weight against the proposal respectively.
"The other considerations described above attract very considerable weight in favour of the proposal and while the matter is finely balanced, I conclude that the other considerations do not clearly outweigh the harm resulting from inappropriateness and restoration.
"It has been suggested that other golf courses have been ruined by landfill activities. There is, however, no evidence that this would be likely to be the case here."
Thirteen residents objected to the application after raising concerns that the proposed work would create a rubbish tip on their doorstep.
Wenslie Naylon, chairman of Keele Parish Council, pictured, said: "The parish council was very concerned about the amount of lorries which would have been sent to the village to provide the landfill.
"We can understand the owner wanting to improve the course, but there must be other ways which are less damaging to the environment."
Councillor Eddie Boden, borough council cabinet member for planning, regeneration and town centres, said: "We note the decision."