A Preston golf club which closed its doors three years ago and was earmarked for a major housing development has officially re-opened.
Plans were tabled by owners Northern Trust, run by PNE owner Trevor Hemmings, to replace Ingol Golf Club with a 500 home development after it closed in 2010 because of dwindling membership.
But it has now been taken over by Tim and John Wright, two former Penwortham golf professionals, after it was marketed last year.
The club house has already been given a huge refurbishment and opened yesterday. A restaurant will open next week. And the course is being completely re-designed and upgraded, with the hope it will be playable by April.
Managing director John Wright said better drainage will be introduced and senior, junior, student, business and casual users will all be welcomed and catered for.
He added: “We see ourselves as custodians of this course and local people will hopefully use it.
“We will be saying to our customers, we know we are new, we know we have to prove ourselves but if you come and join us now when we need you, we will look after you like never before.”
The move was today welcomed by community leaders who campaigned for the course to be kept.
Coun Dave Hammond, who represents the Greyfriars area of Fulwood on Preston Council, said: “I am highly delighted because this was the whole idea. We don’t want to see barren land so it is good that someone has put something in place and I hope it is a success.”
Coun Bill Shannon, who represents Ingol, said he was also happy - but said he hopes there are no plans for new homes on the “edges” of the course.
“We campaigned very hard to keep it as a golf course,” he said. “We felt it had not been properly marketed as a golf course and when it was properly marketed, you get these two brothers who want to regenerate it as an 18 hole golf course. To that extent they have our full support.”
Plans by Northern Trust to build homes on the course were thrown out in 2011 by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.
And in June last year, Government planning expert Richard Hollox said the course should remain undeveloped for the next 15 years .
Northern Trust says the club was marketed across the country and internationally and a “number of expressions of interest” were made. But it was the two brothers who made the most acceptable offer.
Northern Trust still own the site and the brothers, whose offer was accepted last July, lease it.
Northern Trust director Mike Grindrod said: “Northern Trust was delighted to agree a deal with John and Tim to take over the running of the course because they are both local businessmen and golfing experts.
“Northern Trust is wholeheartedly supporting this venture and we hope local people do the same to give the new club every opportunity of succeeding.”
Go to www.ingolgolfltd.co.uk.