Community sport champion's warning to council over Darlington golf club merger plan

The Advertiser Series: GAMES LEGACY: Sport England director Peter Rowley GAMES LEGACY: Sport England director Peter Rowley

A DIRECTOR of a national body that promotes participation in sport has criticised plans to merge two golf clubs in a £1m land swap deal.

Peter Rowley, a member of the Sport England board and the North-East’s regional champion for community sport, has outlined his reservations about plans to merge the private Blackwell Grange Golf Club and council-run Stressholme Golf Centre, in Darlington.

A strongly-worded letter from Mr Rowley, a former chief executive of Darlington Building Society, was read out a meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet on Tuesday (February 19).

The plans took a step forward as the cabinet approved the £750,000 sale of Stressholme to Blackwell and the £1m purchase of the privately-run club’s land, subject to full council approval.

If it goes ahead, the deal could be completed by July and pave the way for an executive housing development on part of the land currently occupied by Blackwell.

Mr Rowley said: “As the largest investor in grassroots sport in the borough, the council has a duty to continue to protect and maintain municipal leisure facilities for all.

“It seems ironic that, following one of the greatest years for sport that this country has ever known, Darlington Borough Council seeks to entrust a public recreational asset to a failing private members’ club, rather than contribute to the legacy that the Olympic and Paralympic games promised to deliver.

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“Denying the town a municipal golf option is inconsistent with the town’s public health obligations.”

The cabinet also heard from interested parties concerned that the £750,000 fee agreed for Stressholme – a public asset – was below market value and would leave the council vulnerable to it being sold on in the future, potentially netting Blackwell a handsome profit.

Councillor Stephen Harker, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for efficiency and resources, said that would not be the case as a covenant would be included ensuring the land remains as a golf club.

Mr Rowley also questioned the long-term aim of building executive housing on part of the Blackwell site.

He said: “There is no shortage of executive housing in Darlington.

“Building houses on the green spaces that contribute to the borough being a place where people want to live, work and play will detract from Darlington, not enhance it.

“Is this what building ‘a better Darlington’ has been reduced to, seeking a short-term saving rather than having the courage to take a longer view?”

The full council meets on February 28, when the merger will be discussed.

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Comments (12)

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10:00pm Tue 19 Feb 13

NJGR26 says...

Correct me if I have missed something .... but is not the same situation as at Mount Oswald Golf Club in Durham. The council have approved plans for Banks to proceed with the developments on the golf club site. Regardless of all the smoke and mirrors their primary objective is to built executive homes to 'attract entrepreneurs to bring their businesses' to Durham. It honestly makes me cringe that the people in charge of making generation defining planning decisions can believe this kind of crap.

Anyway ... within all of the planning applications Banks produced for the crimes that are about to happen at Mount Oswald - the organisation Mr Rowley represents actually backed the proposals ?!?!? Sport England concluded that there were sufficient golf clubs within the surrounding area and the loss of Mount Oswald golf club would not be an issue in terms of loss of recreational space and a municiple sporting resource.

So Mr Rowley are you not just a NIMBY representing Darlington or does your organisation just pick and choose their battles ? The inconsistancy in Sport England approach is very dissappointing
Correct me if I have missed something .... but is not the same situation as at Mount Oswald Golf Club in Durham. The council have approved plans for Banks to proceed with the developments on the golf club site. Regardless of all the smoke and mirrors their primary objective is to built executive homes to 'attract entrepreneurs to bring their businesses' to Durham. It honestly makes me cringe that the people in charge of making generation defining planning decisions can believe this kind of crap. Anyway ... within all of the planning applications Banks produced for the crimes that are about to happen at Mount Oswald - the organisation Mr Rowley represents actually backed the proposals ?!?!? Sport England concluded that there were sufficient golf clubs within the surrounding area and the loss of Mount Oswald golf club would not be an issue in terms of loss of recreational space and a municiple sporting resource. So Mr Rowley are you not just a NIMBY representing Darlington or does your organisation just pick and choose their battles ? The inconsistancy in Sport England approach is very dissappointing NJGR26

10:07pm Tue 19 Feb 13

diga says...

My husband and I were at Stressholme this week and.
My husband and I were at Stressholme this week and. diga

10:13pm Tue 19 Feb 13

diga says...

every table was taken as was every space in the car parks for people playing golf. I hope it will remain the same when anything that has to happen goes ahead.....
every table was taken as was every space in the car parks for people playing golf. I hope it will remain the same when anything that has to happen goes ahead..... diga

10:40pm Tue 19 Feb 13

Darloresident says...

Clowns to the left,Jokers to the right..Darlington Tax payers stuck in the middle...
The Stressholme land belongs to us!!!!
How dare the Council sell at a knock down price??
The pros and cons that Mr Rowley raise are certainly an issue.However if the council is selling then they should for all the taxpayers sake get the full market value..I smell fishy goings on here...
Clowns to the left,Jokers to the right..Darlington Tax payers stuck in the middle... The Stressholme land belongs to us!!!! How dare the Council sell at a knock down price?? The pros and cons that Mr Rowley raise are certainly an issue.However if the council is selling then they should for all the taxpayers sake get the full market value..I smell fishy goings on here... Darloresident

11:04pm Tue 19 Feb 13

hemmi1 says...

smelly goings on here even arriva have air fresheners in the buses darlington just stinks
smelly goings on here even arriva have air fresheners in the buses darlington just stinks hemmi1

7:59am Wed 20 Feb 13

Apocalypse Later says...

Shouldn't take the Blackwell committee long to blow the £250000.
They have a good history of wasting money.
Shouldn't take the Blackwell committee long to blow the £250000. They have a good history of wasting money. Apocalypse Later

8:00am Wed 20 Feb 13

loan_star says...

I hope the covenant to make sure the land stays in use for golf is a bit more watertight than the covenant the cricket club got round to get permission to build houses on Feethams!
I hope the covenant to make sure the land stays in use for golf is a bit more watertight than the covenant the cricket club got round to get permission to build houses on Feethams! loan_star

8:12am Wed 20 Feb 13

Madadrian says...

I wish Peter Rowley would explain why I should have my pocket picked to pay for his entertainment
I wish Peter Rowley would explain why I should have my pocket picked to pay for his entertainment Madadrian

11:30am Wed 20 Feb 13

Bloodredrose says...

I agree largely with all the comments posted, the council should seek the opinion of the people they work for, (the residents of Darlington), before they sell off something that does not belong to them.

Also I would like to see the proposal for the housing development as the traffic around the Blackwell/Bridge Road area is getting worse and worse.

Getting in and out of Darligton via this area at peak times is an issue now and the Highways Department should have something to say on the matter before any new properties are added to make the situation worse.

Once again our council need to be reminded that they are employed by us, for our benefit and act ONLY WITH OUR CONSENT!

We need to E-mail our councillors and make our feelings known on this matter, you will find their e-mail address on the council web site. If we don't do this we cannot be suprised when they do things we dont like!
I agree largely with all the comments posted, the council should seek the opinion of the people they work for, (the residents of Darlington), before they sell off something that does not belong to them. Also I would like to see the proposal for the housing development as the traffic around the Blackwell/Bridge Road area is getting worse and worse. Getting in and out of Darligton via this area at peak times is an issue now and the Highways Department should have something to say on the matter before any new properties are added to make the situation worse. Once again our council need to be reminded that they are employed by us, for our benefit and act ONLY WITH OUR CONSENT! We need to E-mail our councillors and make our feelings known on this matter, you will find their e-mail address on the council web site. If we don't do this we cannot be suprised when they do things we dont like! Bloodredrose

1:37pm Wed 20 Feb 13

Homshaw1 says...

Waste of time talking about it

They have made up their mind. The council want money now from any source irrespective of how it affects the quality of life of the residents

£750K is peanuts for a facility that gives a lot of pleasure to a lot of people
Waste of time talking about it They have made up their mind. The council want money now from any source irrespective of how it affects the quality of life of the residents £750K is peanuts for a facility that gives a lot of pleasure to a lot of people Homshaw1

2:52pm Thu 21 Feb 13

Parkin Mad says...

If Sport England wer so bothered about this, then why did they not stump up the money to keep the course open????
If Sport England wer so bothered about this, then why did they not stump up the money to keep the course open???? Parkin Mad

5:27pm Sun 10 Mar 13

golftw#t says...

This couldn't' possibly have anything to do with the said Mr Peter Rowley having his house backing on to Blackwell golf course could it!
Will it spoil the view from your rear Windows!Hypocrite!
This couldn't' possibly have anything to do with the said Mr Peter Rowley having his house backing on to Blackwell golf course could it! Will it spoil the view from your rear Windows!Hypocrite! golftw#t

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