By a Local Democracy Reporter and Harry Mottram. Plans to turn the former Entry Hill Golf Course into a place for cycling and walking has been condemned by campaigners.
The decision by the Council will see the former golf course become a new multi-use activity park.
A consultation last year revealed that more than three-quarters of respondents wanted it to become a mountain bike park, while another proposal was to turn into a nature park.
However golfer Elizabeth Hallam, who previously claimed the survey was hijacked by the “cycling lobby on steroids”, told cabinet members on February 11: “You have a gem at Entry Hill yet every public statement has been prefaced with talk of declining numbers and financial losses.
“What level of mismanagement have you overseen? What burden have you imposed on council tax payers?
“I am so worried that you have been misled about the prospects for Entry Hill.”
Now Bristol-based company Pedal Progression is to provide a new family cycle and activity park for bikers, families, walkers and nature-lovers alike.
The park will provide free access to park areas and trails for walking and cycling, a learn-to-ride area with pump track and a new natural play park.
New wildlife habitats and wider biodiversity will be encouraged with a nature garden, pond and community growing area. There will also be a new and expanded café with seating and viewing areas across the park.
The Council said Pedal Progression, a skills coaching and bike hire company, is committed to engaging with the local community as they seek to get more people, more active, more often. Residents living locally to the park will receive letters from the company in early March.
It is hoped that the cycle park will open in spring 2022 with the café expected to open in summer 2021.
The course has been closed since last March due to the Covid-19 crisis although it is simple enough to enter and take a walk in the park.
The decision has not gone down well with the golfers who dispute the Council’s claim the numbers of players were in decline. Some observers however point to the cost to the Council of maintaining the course of £80,000 a year as being the main reason for a change of use.
Cllr Richard Samuel, the cabinet member for resources, said the council is no longer able to support loss-making ventures.
Cllr Crossley said: “Discretionary services such as leisure must aim to deliver financially sustainable solutions.
“Golf at Entry Hill has required significant subsidy from the council for some time now.
“Any outcome from today must be affordable and meet the council’s desired outcomes as well as the needs of the community.”
• Meanwhile another green space in the city where golfers enjoy playing the game is also under consideration by the Council over its future.
The Approach Golf Course at High Common is also under review following the rejection of the only bidder to take on the course by the Council.
Bath and North East Somerset Council’s cabinet said they had listened to residents after widespread concern for High Common and 4,300 people signed a petition to save the 18-hole Approach golf course.
Ben Reed, who launched the campaign, disputed Bath and North East Somerset Council’s claim residents want to see an end to any commercialisation of High Common.
He hopes to lead a volunteer-run takeover, with support from the authority funded by a new concession at the site’s cafe – but said if the golf course is allowed to grow too much it will be impossible to go back.
Bathonian Mr Reed, who works for Defra and has been playing golf for 25 years, said: “There’s been a gradual decline at the Approach. That’s not the current administration’s fault. It’s never been at the forefront of anyone’s priorities. That resulted in a rubbish course no one wanted to play on.
“It used to be one of the best courses of its type in the South West. If it’s left as parkland for long enough it will be impossible to turn it back into a golf course.”
The council went out to tender for a new operator for the Approach but the cabinet rejected the only bidder.
Cllr Crossley, cabinet member for community services, said: “It’s clear that there is much passion and value for this site amongst the community and we appreciate everyone who has taken time to share their views on its future.
“The Approach has operated at a cost to the council of around £28,000 a year and it’s not the case that we have neglected the site.”
The site will remain as open public land while the Council considers its future.
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