The article ‘Future of Golf Club site: Clarification’ including comments by Martin Hubbard, current chair of Haywards Heath Golf Club Management Committee, in last week’s Middy is disappointing as it does not reflect the Government thinking regarding the preservation of leisure facilities.
It also fails to recognise the history of the club, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2022. The committee surely has a duty, as current custodians, to make every effort to ensure the club continues on the present site for the benefit of current and future generations.
The article makes no reference to the adverse effect of developing up to 1,000 homes on the course when, as detailed in the Lindfield Neighourhood Plan, essential local services are already under strain. Numerous potential sites have been submitted to Mid-Sussex for development under the Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment.
It is suggested, to mitigate the impact on local services, smaller housing developments should be distributed throughout Mid-Sussex, on brownfield and other vacant sites, before building over a long established golf course, particularly when Hassocks Golf Club has been lost to developers and planned developments will undoubtedly generate an increasing demand for leisure facilities.
Mr Hubbard states that the company expressed a ‘firm intention not to renew the lease’. A Landlord’s right to refuse to renew a commercial lease is subject to several conditions, even if these are met, it is difficult to understand what will be achieved by terminating the lease, other to gain the club’s support for the company’s development proposals.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) recognises that ‘access to a network of high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and physical activity is important for the health and well-being of communities’. To meet this requirement, the policy states that existing facilities should not be developed unless ‘the loss resulting from the proposed development is replaced by a equivalent or better provision’ and local planning policies should ‘guard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities’.
Merging the club with Lindfield Golf Club does not represent a replacement and would certainly result in a loss of a long-established valued facility.
In an effort to secure the future of the club, the Mid-Sussex Council has, to its credit, declared the club an Asset of Community Value. In this respect the council deserves the full support of the community and the club’s management committee.
For more information go to www.stophaywards heathgolfclubdevelopment.co.uk a website operated by a group of local residents.
Anthony E Dunlop