Whitburn Golf Club refused planning permission for new 'swing studio', shop and other facilities
Plans for new and improved facilities at a golf club have been knocked back by council planners over green belt fears.
In November 2020, plans were lodged for a single storey extension to Whitburn Golf Club, off Lizard Lane.
The application aimed to pave the way for a new golf shop, ‘swing studio’ and an office, alongside proposals to relocate a door to a changing area.
According to planning documents, the swing studio aimed to provide an area to teach the game of golf and to allow for the fitting of golf clubs.
This included customers being assessed on their golf swing on-site so they could purchase the correct golf clubs from the adjacent shop.
A planning report added that the swing studio would be used to “teach people with infirmities to the game from a safe environment to determine whether they could progress to the outdoor game, by golfers in bad weather, and by experienced golfers to practice / improve their skills.”
However, the plans failed to win over South Tyneside Council’s planning department, which refused the application on February 1.
The extension was considered acceptable in terms of design and potential impacts on biodiversity and highways.
Despite this, planners argued the scheme would be an “inappropriate development within the green belt.”
A council decision report reads: “The proposed extension would constitute a ‘new building’ which would not constitute the provision of appropriate facilities for outdoor sport, and when combined with existing extensions to the ‘original building’, would result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the ‘original building’.
“It would therefore, by definition, represent inappropriate development within the green belt (as defined by the National Planning Policy Framework).
“The proposed extension would cause harm to both the spatial and visual openness of the green belt, and there are no other considerations provided in support of the proposal to amount to very special circumstances to outweigh this harm.”
The report stated the applicant had explored alternatives to the extension, such as converting parts of the existing building, but these were considered “unworkable.”
Supporting information from the applicant added that “in modern times, golf clubs cannot be professionally supplied without an assessment of a person’s swing” – with the swing studio being “essential to any modern golf club.”
While noting the reasons behind the proposals, council planners said the facility did not need to be located at a golf club and that the reasons provided were not enough to outweigh the harm to the protected green belt land.