Council back plans to rewild golf course as pressure from activists mounts

Published on by Jack Oliver (author)

A hole at Hollingdean Golf Course, where the lease expires in March (photo: )
A hole at Hollingdean Golf Course, where the lease expires in March

Earlier this week Brighton and Hove City council released a document which put forward a proposal to begin a process of ‘rewilding’ Waterhall golf course.

Rewilding is a form of conservation aimed at protecting and conserving natural areas and processes, often in areas previously used by humans.

Waterhall is one of two Brighton golf courses, as well as Hollingbury, whose leases expire in March. On the January the 16th, the Brighton and Hove City Council’s Tourism, Equalities and Culture Committee will meet to discuss the futures of the two sites, with a look to potentially extend the lease by 25 years.

The two courses are currently operated by Mytime Active on behalf of the council.

The council document describes a Community Interest Company as the ‘preferred leaseholder’ for Waterhall.

It details ‘already impoverished biodiversity at the site’, and proposes a ‘wildlife corridor connectiong adjoining wildlife sites’.

One suggestion in the document is the conversion of the existing clubhouse into an ‘events venue’.

This comes amid pressure from climate activism group Extinction Rebellion, who will begin a protest in Brighton on Saturday (11th), arguing for the rewilding of both Waterhall and Hollingbury golf courses.

Their plans are outlined in their ‘Demonstrate for the Downs’ initiative.

They urge the council to ‘take this unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure that the internationally endangered, wildlife-rich and diverse chalk grassland ecosystems of the two sites can re-generate and flourish’.

To date, over 3000 people have signed an ePetition on Brighton and Hove City Council’s website put forward by Claudia Fisher, a member of Extinction Rebellion.

However, the council document notes that the proposed management strategy is ‘expensive’, and also details other negative effects such as ‘public health implications’. It is also likely that should the proposals go forward, there will be some outcry from golfers who use the affected golf courses.

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