Frustration at ‘bureaucratic delays’ in potential handover of Brackenwood Golf Course

Today, the last day of March, is a day that will be bitterly remembered by many members of the local community in Bebington.

The last rounds of golf under the auspices of Wirral Council will today be played at the 87 year old Brackenwood Golf Course.

It was a pleasant and sunny day when met up with Keith Marsh, secretary of the men’s section. As well as the expected golfers, the grounds were being used by people enjoying a stroll, cyclists, and dog walkers.

“The residents are really worried, and the vast majority of them are not golfers. They’re worried that they’re going to build on that,” Keith says as he surveys the vista from in front of the clubhouse. “The council will turn around and say that they have a brownfield site first policy,” he says of the policy that has been recently upgraded to ‘brownfield only.’

Keith says that he is worried that potential developers will appeal a local council refusal for planning permission that will then be approved by central government.

The problem that Keith envisions is that the course, left unmaintained by the council, will become a “wasteland” and will prove too financially intensive for a potential new operator to bring back into a useable condition, leaving it at the mercy of developers.

There are “at least two” potential operators who are eager to take over the operation of the golf course, Keith tells us. But, the problem is the bureaucracy in a potential handover, or ‘community asset transfer’, which would take up to 40 weeks to complete would mean that by that stage, the course would require too much investment to remain viable.

Simply put, during the time that it would take for a new operator to take the reigns, the greens and fairways would become so overgrown that it would essentially mean that the new operator would have to create a new course from scratch, which would be financially unfeasable.

Keith says he has asked the council for an interim agreement to allow club members to carry out essential frequent maintenance to protect the greens and to ensure that the course doesn’t become overgrown, but no positive response has been forthcoming.

“I’ve been a member [of the golf club] since I was 11 years old,” Keith says. “There’s lots of people here that have grown up on this golf course. There’s so many members that for them, this is their sanctuary. This is their second home.”

“We’ve got a fantastic club and it’s cheaper to take on as an ongoing concern rather than rescue it later.” Keith succinctly summarises.

Image: Members of Brackenwood Golf Club

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