Long and costly appeal ahead after Churston Golf Club bid turned down
CHURSTON residents and Torbay Council are bracing themselves for a long and potentially costly planning appeal after a bid for a £4.5million golf club house was turned down.
Bloor Homes and Churston Golf Club have vowed to see Torbay Council's one-vote margin decision overturned by a planning inspector.
Ian Mellor, a planning consultant working on behalf of the developer Bloor Homes, warned members of the planning committee of the potential cost of a planning appeal and targeted members of the Residents Against the Golf club Sell-off (RAGS) group saying they, too, could be hit by demand for legal costs.
He said: "We will go to appeal. Refusal puts the future of the golf club in question, there will be no Lee Westwood Academy and no care home.
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"It means a loss of £5million in government funding and millions of investment in the local economy.
"A full public inquiry involving solicitors and barristers will lead to costs if you have no evidence against us.
"There will also be an appeal for costs against RAGS.
"I hope the pockets of RAGS are as deep as their prejudice against affordable housing."
The Churston Golf Club and Bloor Home application for a new club house on land at the junction of Bridge Road and Bascombe Road was turned down by five votes to four with committee chairman Cllr Beryl McPhail casting her vote against the development.
After the meeting, Mr Mellor and club chairman Tim Lake both confirmed they will appeal the decision.
Mr Lake said 200 jobs were at risk at the club.
He said: "It was really close. I think we have got a real chance at appeal. The council's decision doesn't make sense."
Mr Mellor said: "If the club can't have a new club house, we can't build 90 new homes on the first and 18th holes.
"There will be no 42-room care home nor government money. The deadline for that £5million cash for affordable houses is July. That's gone.
"Torbay Council will lose its five-year land supply contribution and will have to find other sites to build homes on.
"Access will not be improved and no footpath linking the club house to Dartmouth Road will be built."
Objectors to the clubhouse proposal said they were ready for any appeal.
It is the second time the club and the home builder had a planning application for a new club house quashed.
Mr Lake said the new club house, near the third fairway, 120 car parking spaces and improved access, would have secured the club's future, ensured the environmental management of the area with regard to wildlife such as bats and cirl buntings.
Mr Lake said a yes vote would have been a vote for jobs and investment in the Bay and a yes-vote for the long-term protection of the green corridor between Churston and Brixham.
However, the committee agreed with local residents saying the Section 106 agreement was not deliverable, the impact on public views and amenities, the increased traffic the scheme would have generated on an already congested network of rural roads, and the impact on the countryside zone and wildlife, would have been too great.
Adam Billings, chairman of the Churston Galmpton and Broadsands community partnership, told the meeting: "There are five robust reasons to refuse this application. This is a very large club house, 40 per cent bigger than the current one.
"It is too big and in the wrong location and will impact the landmark public view and would destroy the green buffer between Churston and Brixham.
"The disturbance to the environment would be great while this new club house would not enhance the economic future of the golf club."
Local farmer Richard Haddock, a tenant on the Churston Barony land where the club's new holes would have to be created to compensate for the loss of the first and 18th holes, said he was under no obligation to sign a Section 106 agreement for the development to go ahead.
He claimed: "I will not sign this agreement because it would force me to contravene the Animals Welfare Act."
Mr Billings said it was a victory for the 1,500 residents who had opposed the project.
He said the community was ready for any planning appeal.
Geoff Melbourne, chairman of RAGS, added: "We expected them to appeal. We have already retained a legal counsel for this eventuality."