Future of two city golf courses to be discussed

The future of Middleton Park Golf Club is to be discussed by the council's executive board.
The future of Middleton Park Golf Club is to be discussed by the council's executive board.
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Proposals regarding the future of two golf courses in the city are set to be discussed by Leeds City Council’s executive board next week.

As part of a meeting set to be held on September 17, senior officers will discuss a number of options regarding the long-term viability of Middleton Park and Gotts Park golf courses. This follows the council in 2013, deferring a previous decision to close both courses in order to see if a new way of delivering the service could be found and undertaking a wide-ranging public consultation.

Attempts to find a suitable business case to keep the courses open, which made a collective loss of £217k in 2013/2014, have as yet been fruitless, and at the executive board, members are being asked to recommend that the council cease to provide golf at either course from 31 October 2014.

If this decision is given the go-ahead, and Gotts Park Golf Club does not indicate it wishes to manage the course which would see the council, subject to approval, entering into a yearly agreement with the organisation, plans would move forward on the development of a new country park. Made up of 37 hectares, the green space, which would be called the Benjamin Gott Country Park, will offer somewhere where the public can for free, play games, relax, and enjoy the interesting and diverse range of wildlife habitats.

In regards to the closure of Middleton Park Golf course, if agreed by the executive board, the council will invest £74k in the space which is currently occupied by Middleton Park Golf Club. This investment will be shaped in consultation with local councillors, Friends of Middleton Park, Wades and the local community where a number of ideas are set to be looked at.

It is expected that the projected savings in closing both courses will be £170k this year, and this money will be used to establish the parkland and as match funding for suitable grants until 2015/2016.

To read the full executive board report, please see: http://democracy.leeds.gov.uk/documents/s121037/Golf%20Cover%20Report%20090914.pdf

Coun Mark Dobson, Leeds City Council’s executive member for cleaner, safer and stronger communities said: “We have worked extremely hard with both golf clubs to see if a suitable business case could be found to deliver this service, and unfortunately these investigations have as yet not been successful. Given the significant challenges that the council faces and the combined loss of both golf courses which were £217,000 last year, it is simply unstainable to carry on as before. It is because of this reason that we have asked the executive board to recommend that both golf courses close.

“We have been determined however, that if Gotts Park Golf Club doesn’t take up the option of managing their particular service, and the closure of both courses does go ahead, that plans are put in place to ensure that these two lovely pieces of green spaces are made fully accessible and enjoyed by the public.

“With that in mind, we would like to move forward on the development of a country park at Gotts and working closely with the community of Middleton, see what they would like the green space to become in the future. As part of our commitment, we will use the projected £170k savings this year, to help establish the parkland and support the work at Middleton.”