Development Project Update
Two planning applications have been submitted on behalf of Bognor Regis Golf Club.
The first is an outline planning application for the residential development of 480 homes at our current site, Downview Road. The second planning application is in full detail for the development of Bognor Regis Golf Club’s brand-new golfing facility at the Grevatts Lane site, to the north of Elmer.
Why Is Bognor Regis Golf Club Relocating?
The purpose of this project is to invest all the money from the sale of our current site, to build a state-of-the-art, future-proofed golf and hospitality facility, that will be the benchmark for clubs in the local area and will ensure the long-term future of Bognor Regis Golf Club for many generations to come.
Our current site has many limitations which are holding the club back from growing and improving the facilities we can offer our members. The club currently enjoys a full membership but with an ever-growing number of applicants on the waiting list to join, more capacity is needed.
Our current site is only 97 acres which is extremely small for an 18-hole course, also the land on our boundaries is not available to facilitate expansion.
Our current course, at 6,121 yards from the back tees, is considered short by modern standards and with the advancing technology in the game, this situation will only get worse. With no additional land available to us, we can’t lengthen the course as our current land is maximised to its fullest potential.
We don’t have the space for a reservoir of sufficient size to store water for our irrigation system, so our only option is to use mains supply to water the greens throughout the spring and summer. Not only is mains water expensive, but it is also unsustainable in the long-term with water resources continually stretched. Our current irrigation system only covers our greens and half of our tee boxes. This system can’t be expanded with no alternative available to mains water.
Our current course was not constructed to be free draining. When it was built 100 years ago, heavy clay soils were a benefit that reduced the need to water the course throughout the summer months. Drainage installation wasn’t much of a consideration as golfers hardly played at all during the winter months. Waterproof golf clothing and equipment didn’t exist either. The modern golfer wants, and expects, to be able to play golf all year round and courses are now built with drainage at the forefront of design.
We have made many improvements to our drainage network over the years, and we continue to invest in this area. It is extremely rare for the course to be flooded however, it does get waterlogged, and the surfaces take time to dry out enough to be suitable for golf to be played. To put the impact of this in perspective, the course hasn’t flooded at all this winter (2021/22) but the poor drainage following prolonged rainfall has meant the course has been closed for 25 days since Christmas.
The original barn part of our clubhouse is over 150 years old; it is in need of considerable investment and is no longer operationally fit for purpose. Energy efficiency is very low and with sustainability and ongoing price increases, the facility is becoming very expensive to run. The interior design is extremely dated and not suitable for a modern, progressive facility. This would require considerable investment to improve.
Our practice facilities are very outdated. We have a putting green, chipping green and a practice fairway that only reaches 180 yards long. Modern golfers want to devote a lot more time to practice and a driving range and short game practice area are now key to any progressive golfing facility.
Whilst we are making the best of our current site and members and visitors enjoy our facilities, this is not sustainable in the longer-term without considerable investment and the ability to expand.
How Will The New Facilities At The Grevatt’s Lane Site Improve These Issues?
Reinvesting all the money from the sale of our current site will mean that we have the budget to build a brand-new golf club, with much improved facilities, to a very high standard.
The new facilities, subject to planning being granted, will include the following:
18-hole golf course - designed by leading design company European Golf Design (EGD). The course will stretch to over 6,800 yards from the back tees, a lot longer than our current 6,121 yards. EGD has designed the courses for a number of Ryder Cup venues including; Celtic Manor, Le Golf National and Marco Simoni. Our lead designer, Gary Johnston, designed Dubai Hills, winner of the Best New Course in the World 2019.
9-hole par 3 golf course – also designed by EGD and built to the same very high standard, just a smaller version of the main course. There is no facility like this, built to this standard in our area.
15-bay Driving Range – a 15-bay driving range with ball tracing technology will offer the very best in practice facilities. This combined with the 9-hole course will ensure we can attract new golfers to the game.
Clubhouse & Hospitality – a brand-new clubhouse will ensure that we can offer high quality hospitality and meeting spaces in a modern, built for purpose, facility. This facility will be a lot more attractive than our current clubhouse; it will be designed with future generations in mind and will be welcoming and comfortable for all ages to enjoy. We will also be open to non-members to enjoy our hospitality.
Greenkeeper’s facilities – brand-new greenkeeping facilities will ensure we can manage our new courses to the highest standard, whilst providing excellent facilities for our staff.
Two reservoirs – with the capacity for over 70,000m3 of water storage will mean we can sustainably run a full irrigation system on the new courses. Not only does this represent considerable long-term financial savings, but it also improves our long-term sustainability.
GEO Certified – the new facility will be GEO Certified. This is a comprehensive modern certification, developed to the highest credibility standard, to help golf facilities demonstrate and be recognised for their environmental and social responsibility. The ecology surveys show that the biodiversity of the new site will increase by over 40% of current levels on that site.
What Are The Impacts On The Downview Road Site?
Downview Road Masterplan
The planning application provides for the development of 480 homes on about 30% of our current site.
This will provide over 27.7 hectares (66+ acres) of new open space for the local community to enjoy in perpetuity. To put this green space into context, it will be 5 times the size of King George V playing fields or double the size of Worms Wood. The vast majority of this green space will be to the west of the site, providing a green gap between Felpham and Bognor Regis.
The plans provide for enhanced paths on the site linking to the local network of public paths, as well as more trees and communal growing space/allotments etc.
The biodiversity on our current site will improve by over 10%, despite the new residential development. This will be achieved through a combination of new woodland planting, meadow creation and wetland. The existing trees with recorded bat roost will be retained. With one exception the development will retain all high quality (Category A) trees. Inevitable tree loss will be kept to a minimum, removing only those trees absolutely necessary to facilitate development, road or drainage infrastructure. For every tree removed there will be a policy of at least a two for one replacement.
Ideally, all members would have preferred the vehicle access to the new homes to be via a connection to a new link road, as safeguarded in Arun District Council’s Local Plan, between the B2259 and the A259. It is most likely that the link road will have to go through the golf course but the link road plan has not been actioned yet. In the meantime, a strip of land on our site will be reserved for a stretch of the new link road and an undertaking given that the developer of the housing will pay for the road where it passes through the club’s site if others action and bring forwards the remainder of the road proposal. Should this happen, it will provide the possibility of alternative access for the new homes in the future.
The highways surveys show that improved road junctions on Downview Road, will mitigate the increase in traffic from the residential development. It is also important to remember that the golf club already has significant traffic movements to and from the site, using the current road network.
Since 2020 the local authority has charged new housing developers a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). In our current location, this amounts to £100 per square meter of floor space for all houses except for social housing. The proposed residential development will attract a significant levy specifically to help deliver the infrastructure needed. This may include green space, leisure facilities, highways and transport, education and emergency services.
Bognor Regis Golf Club has already moved twice before since it was first founded in 1892. It started as a 9-hole course in the centre of Bognor town, where Victoria Drive is now. It then moved in 1905 to a 12-hole course near the B2259 between the Butlin’s and Arun Leisure Centre roundabouts. In 1922, the club moved to the current 18-hole Downview Road site, where is has now been for 100 years.
Each time the club has relocated, it has been to enhance and grow the facilities which have ensured the long-term future of the club. Our current relocation project is no different, we recognise that if we don’t act now, we risk there not being a Bognor Regis Golf Club in 10/15/20 years’ time.
It is fair to say that all members enjoy our current course, and all will be sad to leave it behind and to see houses on part of the land. However, members recognise that this once in a generation opportunity is vital to once again, ensure the long-term future of Bognor Regis Golf Club.
The new facilities we are hoping to build will be the benchmark for clubs in the local area and beyond. They will be built to such a high standard that they will attract visitors from all around the country to our local area and we will be proud to continue to operate them under the name of Bognor Regis.
Understandably, there has been lots of comments on social media about the reasons and rationale behind the project. We hope this document will go some way to demonstrating why our members voted overwhelmingly for the relocation. We would also like to reassure everyone that every penny of the sale proceeds from the current site, will be reinvested in the new facility. No members or directors of the club will stand to gain anything financially from this project.
Finally, it is with a heavy heart that we might say goodbye to our current course one day, but we must look forward, be progressive and play our part as custodians of this 130-year-old club, to ensure that Bognor Regis Golf Club is here for future generations to enjoy for the next 100+ years.