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Russ Wallace

Councillor Wallace - Bedlingtonshire Golf Club

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As a member of Bedlingtonshire Golf Club I became aware that since the Acres development had been completed problems started to emerge which were making the practice field no longer fit for purpose.

Although preventative measures had been taken, golf balls continued to land in the adjacent properties.  The course is of championship standard and as such is used for regional events.  Therefore, the provision of quality practice facilities is essential for the club to retain this status.

The club had been approached by developers with a view to purchasing the land, subject to Planning permission being granted.  With the support of members, the Board then undertook a process of due diligence to review all options.  The Golf Club is a registered not for profit organisation and therefore any monies received from the sale of land would be reinvested in the club and its facilities.

In late 2017, as a member of the Golf Club I was asked if I would join the Board – a voluntary and unpaid position.  Before accepting I reflected at length over any possible conflict.  In the end I decided it would be better to be ‘on the inside’ and therefore be in a position to influence any possible development so that it would be in the best interest of the town.

I also made it clear to the Board that as a Bedlington County Councillor my major role would be to ensure that any potential development met the needs of the town and specifically, if the proposed housing was yet more of the ‘executive’ style that I have fought against for several years now, I would immediately resign and actively oppose any application.

Although for reasons of commercial confidentiality I cannot discuss the situation regarding the style of housing currently proposed, the preferred developer actually appears to be listening.

In addition to enhanced golfing facilities, which includes unique opportunities for young people, the current proposal provides 12 full time equivalent jobs, with that number expected to rise.  Also included are facilities that are much needed in the town such as a high quality area specifically designed to hold community events and functions and provide leisure and fitness areas.

A huge issue for me over the Acres was the absolute destruction of hedgerows and other wildlife habitat.  The preferred developer has given assurances that if the development goes ahead the hedgerow bordering 20 Acres will remain intact.  Also, the tree removal essential to the new driving range has been subjected to a full ecological survey and, as it will subsequently provide a suitable habitat, is fully supported by the Red Squirrel Society.

A public presentation of this information was given at a West Bedlington Town Council meeting earlier this year, where several questions were raised – the minutes of this meeting can be accessed via the town council.

The project is extremely tentative at present – the pre-planning process has not yet been completed.  Therefore, any actual application for planning permission is far from definite and could be months away.

Finally, I am not a member of the NCC Strategic Planning Committee who would make any final decision and, as a member of the Golf Club I have a declared ‘interest’ in the matter. Therefore, if any Planning Application is made, I rightly will be excluded from playing any part in the decision making process.

If you wish to discuss this or any other matter please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected]or on 07779 983775.  Also, my next Surgery is at 6.30 next Thursday, 2ndAugust at Bedlington Community Centre.

Thank you for reading.

Russ

 

 

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