Council Meeting 30th Sept 6pm

Posted on: Wed Sep 30 by Tom Barlow

Appropriation of Land known as Stanley Park Golf Course.

Dear Councillor,
Re: Stanley Park Golf Course
I presented a petition to the Full Council in September 2019 asking all councillors to reconsider the location chosen
for the proposed development on the eastern portion of Stanley Park Golf Course, and to retain the full 18-hole
course as is. Unfortunately, despite more than 8,000 signatures, a motion to ignore the petition was upheld on the
night. It was also apparent that there were several misconceptions held by some councillors, whilst others had no
knowledge of what was being proposed.
Following the Special Meeting of the Tourism, Economy and Communities Scrutiny Committee (23/07/2020), and the
resulting decision to call in the appropriation of the land, there is now an opportunity for all councillors to commit to
a full and open debate on this. I sincerely hope that you will not allow another motion, even if it is permitted within
the rules of the council, to undermine the democratic spirit of the process again.
Hence, I write to offer some clarification on a few of the misconceptions that may be influencing your decision making in council.

STANLEY PARK GOLF COURSE: challenging some of the misconceptions

1) This is not public open space?
➢ BUT: Many people walk on the course with their families and pets, as do hospital staff and visitors seeking
some brief respite from the stress and tension there.

2) The course is only accessible to elite golf club members?
➢ BUT: this is a municipal course affordable and accessible to anyone who wants to pay and play for as little as
£10 per round – just like any other council sports/leisure facility – part of the ‘sport for all’ concept. From as
little as £10 per 4-hour round, this is cheaper than swimming! There is no dress code requirement. Players do
not have to be golf club members but can also use the club facilities.

3) This is not a community asset?
➢ BUT: all operators, to date, have failed to recognize the potential of the course as a place where different
community groups could benefit, although many of the petitioners and local campaigners have seen potential
value in the course. Examples could include:golf schemes for schoolchildren learning golf; special groups such as young carers; prescriptions for health and well-being! With non-golf schemes for social prescription volunteering on the grounds; nature areas around the course;
working with local charities and third sector organisations.

4) The Golf Course is not financially viable?
➢ BUT: despite being regularly stated by someone in the council, this is not true. The council may have lost
money, and this is because they have allowed the course to be repeatedly mismanaged in the last 10-20 years.The Council itself has not marketed the course, nor apparently included it in any of its marketing materials for the town, since the 1990’s.

In fact, when Mack Golf operated the course (2009-20018), the council failed to hold them to their
agreement to maintain the course in a playable condition and market the course to bring in income, simply
accepting the false claims made about spending on maintenance and groundworks, and allowing them to
continue to operate rent-free for 9yrs. This, despite concerns raised on a regular basis by the Blackpool
Park Golf Club representatives. Mack golf left the council high and dry – having to step in to keep the
course running for a year.

The golf course has always attracted groups of golfers from other clubs for a day trip, but no one has
attempted to market the unique history of the MacKenzie design and work with local hotels to create golf
holiday packages; a popular and profitable model throughout the UK and abroad, which would benefit both
the course and the local tourism businesses. Dr Alister MacKenzie was a world renowned golf architect,
listed in the Golf World Hall of Fame, who designed famous courses all over the world and this is one of the
few municipal and accessible courses for golfers, which could draw in significant business for Blackpool.

5) There are plenty of other courses to play in Blackpool?
➢ BUT: there are not! North Shore is a private members club (fees currently in excess of £1100 p.a.) The DeVere; Herons Reach; and the Village – are all one private course (not 3 courses as stated in the council meetings previously).

Stanley Park Golf Course is the only municipal 18-hole course available to residents. They can pay for one
round at a time or can take out a contract with the golf course operator for up to £520 for a 7 -day annual
contract. If they choose to also join Blackpool Park Golf Club to play in competitions, the cost of this
membership is only £115 p.a. regardless of whether they pay and play or have a contract with the golf
course operator.

6) Most courses these days have been reduced to 9 holes?
➢ BUT: this is also not true. The only 9-hole course in the area is Poulton. The private course at Staining has
actually been increased from 9-holes and is making significantly more money as an 18-hole course.

7) Stanley Park golf course was originally 9-holes and became 18 after the completion of Stanley Park?
➢ BUT: it was not! Despite Councilor Smith’s assertion (in his response to Elizabeth Gomm’s letter) that ‘there are many
versions to the history of the golf course’, the evidence available shows that although the original Mawson
design was limited to the current Stanley Park conservation area boundary, the proposal to extend the
boundaries was made by MacKenzie and Mawson (May 1924), and then agreed by the full Corporation (the
council in those days) so that the 18-hole Stanley Park Golf Course (on both sides of East Park Drive) was
started in November 1924 and opened by the Mayor in the summer of 1925. This was prior to the
completion and opening of Stanley Park later in 1926. In fact, the Art Deco Café in the park was the original
Golf Club House. The evidence for this can be found in the local newspapers of the day, stored in the archives of Central
Library, Blackpool, and in the The MacKenzie Research Society publication: The Doctor Alister MacKenzie
Chronology; 19th revision; Nov 2016 (Copies can be provided if needed).

8) Golf is not popular now and so this land is no longer required for its existing purpose?
➢ BUT: Golf is and has become increasingly more popular since the onset of Covid-19.

We have moved into a ‘new normal’ with no sign as to when this may change again, and surely any outdoor
sport that can be socially distanced is both beneficial for our residents’ health and wellbeing, and clearly
remains a financially viable option. The course has been fully booked for many months now, bringing in
upwards of £40k per month. Not bad if you’re operating under license – rent free!

Evidently, this land you are considering for appropriation, is still required for its existing purpose. It is
required as a public space for recreation. In fact, Boris Johnson has just committed to protecting 30% of
the UK’s land by 2030 – so surely a town like Blackpool should not be losing any when we already have the
least! The Council have already made a case for retaining green space for the population’s health and
wellbeing in the Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy. Surely the Full Council should now act in the spirit
of their own bi-partisan plan.

9) Golf Courses are not environmentally friendly?
➢ BUT: They can be! Stanley Park Golf Course is one of the most important ecological sites in the area and is connected directly
to the green belt, the Biological Heritage Sites on Herons Golf course, and Salisbury Woodland Gardens and
also the Marton Mere SSSI.

Greenkeeping professionals are shaking off a history of toxic chemicals and over-cutting/manicuring and as
Britain becomes increasingly built upon golf courses are providing many opportunities for conservation . All
golf courses have expanses of land where golfers do not go! Depending on their specific nature these areas
can be managed to protect wetland, heathland or perhaps even wildflower meadow or woodland habitats.
Golf courses could and should now be considered as the most biodiverse areas left in many urban settings.

I hope this has been helpful and acceptable

Yours faithfully
Christine Parker