Draft plans to remodel golf course at St Mary's Lands in Warwick revealed

Changes to the golf course was one of several items discussed at an initial consultation with the St Mary's Lands Working Party this week

Draft plans to remodel the golf course at St Mary's Lands in Warwick have been revealed.

The plans, which have been mentioned in an early draft of the St Mary's Lands Masterplan strategy paper, would see the current golf course remodelled - which includes downsizing the course by 40 per cent.

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Changes to the golf course was one of several items discussed at an initial consultation with the St Mary's Lands Working Party this week and Warwick District Council said it is in discussions and getting feedback from members of the working party.

Draft plans to remodel the golf course at St Mary's Lands in Warwick have been revealed

In the documents it said the remodelling of the golf course would 'increase the area of fully accessible green space'.

The plans estimate that the golf course plans would cost around £2,400,000 which includes; replacing the golf centre building with a multi-purpose 'hub' with toilets and refreshments facilities with a small exhibition space and changing the course.

Other improvements listed during the consultation included biodiversity measures such as temporarily fencing off an area to protect nesting birds, relocating the Model Flyers group and improving access and play areas.

According to the draft consultation documents the improvements would cost around £4million.

After the meeting the management committee of the Friends of St Mary's Lands issued a statement about the initial draft plans saying they were opposed to the proposals put before them.

The Management Committee of the Friends of St Mary’s Lands said: "The Friends of St. Mary's Lands are vehemently opposed to the latest proposals from Warwick District Council.

"They plan to fence off a huge area of St. Mary's Lands to protect 11 pairs of nesting birds when it is more important than ever for our well-being to be able to access and enjoy our local open spaces.

"We are also aghast at their plans to spend over £4m on “improvements” to the golf area, including nearly £2m on remodelling the golf course to achieve a 40 per cent reduction.

"The £1,570,000 CIL and section 106 money could be put to far greater community use.

"To profligate spending on this obscene scale is indefensible and we are calling on our Warwick councillors to help defend this beautiful open space - our old Warwick Common."

The Warwick Society, who are also part of the working party provided the following statement to the Courier:

"The Warwick Society strongly supports the Masterplan approved by the District Council, which has these over-riding objectives: To manage, enhance and promote the landscape character of St. Mary’s Lands, including increasing its biodiversity, as a green space distinctly different from the more formal parks and open spaces in Warwick, ensuring access is maintained and enhanced to a large area of more natural open space within walking distance of the town centre.

"Implementation of this plan needs all the groups, businesses and individuals who have an interest in St Mary’s Lands, and the Council, to build consensus on what should be done next.

"The Working Party which brings everyone together clearly has some way to go, and its processes are creaking (aren’t we all, in the era of the virus?).

"But we are keen that everyone continues to work together towards the same objectives, and that the outcome is the best that can be planned for this magnificent green asset to the town."

Chris Elliott, chief executive of Warwick District Council, said he was disappointed with the way the Friends of St Mary's Lands group had responded to the early consultation stage.

He said: "We are trying to develop a proposal and we are at the first stages and this was a first draft.

"This is an area of which there are lots of different views and we are trying to find a way to compromise and this depends on trust and when a group does this they undermine that trust.

"The Friends of St Mary's Lands statement contradicts what they said last night in that they would go away and think of alternatives - in particular with the plans for the area for the nesting birds.

"The idea is that there would be temporary fencing so in the nesting season birds are protected from things such as rampaging dogs.

"It does not affect the public right of way and the rest of the common is open.

"This was a draft and we are open to ideas.

"The mention of the funding has nothing to do with the nesting birds.

"The Friends owe everyone else on the Working Party an apology and their approach is disgraceful.

"This comes across as an objection for the sake of objecting which us never a good thing for anybody."