Golf club’s future in doubt as plans are sunk

Ingol Golf club near Preston

Ingol Golf club near Preston

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A golf club could be driven out of business after plans for more than 160 houses on its land were ruled out of bounds by councillors.

Directors at the Ingol Village course in Preston had hoped the development would help fire the club out of the rough after it was rescued from the brink of closure last year.

But members of the city’s planning committtee have now sunk an application for new homes on what used to be holes six, seven and eight, despite being advised by their own experts to approve it.

“I am worried this will be disastrous for us,” said managing director John Wright. “If we can’t sustain the club we would have to close and that would be disastrous for the whole area.”

The original Ingol Golf Club was designed by three-time Open Championship winner Henry Cotton and teed off in 1981. The land was bought by Preston North End owner Trevor Hemmings in 1985.

In recent years Ingol, like other golf clubs, has struggled due to the economic climate. It switched from a members’ club to a ‘pay and play’ course and there was a danger it would close altogether before John Wright and his brother Tim stepped in to turn things around. But now the housing plan by Rowland Homes has been thrown out, the club will miss out on much-needed funding from the scheme.

In addition to sponsoring the youth academy, Rowland had offered to subsidise 150 new members, bringing the membership up to a workable 400. But councillors felt the housing development was

unacceptable on an area of green open space and overwhelmingly turned it down, much to the delight of a packed public gallery.

Bruce Ellison, who spoke on behalf of residents, told the committee: “This application is illogical and against planning policies. Do not be afraid of opposing it.”

Later he added: “I’m delighted with the outcome. This is the second time we have fought off a housing development on this course, but I very much doubt we have heard the last of it.”

A previous plan by Trevor Hemmings’ company Northern Trust to build 550 homes on part of the Ingol course was rejected by councillors in 2011. It went to appeal and that, too, was thrown out because it would have a detrimental

impact on the area.

The latest scheme comprised up to 164 dwellings, with a new acccess road from Tanterton Hall Road. It was on land previously occupied by three holes, deemed surplus to requirements when the club redesigned the course to make a tighter 18-hole challenge.

The remodelled course has recently been inspected by the Lancashire Golf Union and is set to be accredited as suitable for handicap golf.

Coun Pauline Brown said: “It’s not this council’s responsibility to make sure the golf club survives, that’s up to the owners. It would be inappropriate for the council to accept a planning application that goes against its own local plan.”