A bid for almost 100 new homes on part of the existing course has been lodged to prevent Blyth Golf Club from folding this year.
Bellway Homes has submitted the application to Northumberland County Council, seeking to build 92 houses at the Newsham facility, off Plessey Road.
The proposals would involve the demolition of some outbuildings with the new homes to be built on the site of the 10th and 11th holes, while the clubhouse would be renovated, new outbuildings would be put up, including a Halfway House, and there would be alterations to the course.
The plans are for 24 two-bedroom homes, 41 three-bedroom houses and 27 four-bedroom properties, of which eight would be for social rent and six for sale at discount market value.
A planning statement, by consultants Lichfields, concludes: ‘The golf club is in a poor financial position and without any measures to address this, it is likely that the club would be forced to close in 2019 given the current overdraft position with the bank who are providing crucial financial support.
‘The proposed development would provide the funds required to improve the golf course and the clubhouse, thereby securing the future of the club.’
It claims that the scheme is in line with up-to-date planning policies, adding: ‘The fundamental purpose of the proposed development is to safeguard the viability of the golf club, and the continuation of the important role it provides in offering benefits to the local community and as a tourist attraction’.
The report also refers to a public consultation event, held in December, concluding: ‘The overall response indicates that the local community values Blyth Golf Club and that they would generally support a residential development to fund the improvements needed to secure the golf club’s long-term future.’
It accepts that ‘some respondents stated their concerns for the impact of the development on traffic and on the social infrastructure in the local area’, but adds that these concerns ‘have been fully considered’.
The club has struggled over the last seven years due to rising costs and, in particular, a reduction in income, meaning it has found it difficult to maintain the course adequately and now lacks the investment needed to resolve current vandalism issues.
Between January 2013 and December 2017, the club’s income from memberships, green fees and bar sales dropped by a total of just under £80,000.
Losses have reduced since a peak in 2015, but mainly because the club has ‘taken the difficult decision’ to make two members of staff redundant, but this ‘has been to the detriment of the maintenance of the golf course and this is resulting in a decline in the quality of the course’.
The statement explains that the club’s current overdraft facility only lasts until this month and ‘financial support from the bank has only been extended on the provision that the proposed sale of the land to Bellway goes through and the timing of this application is now critical’.
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service