Whittington Heath Golf Club, in Staffordshire, England, has announced that it has been granted planning permission for a set of works that will allow the club to continue operation when the HS2 high speed railway line is built. The club had been under threat as the route for HS2, which will link London with the north of England, passes straight through the clubhouse and several golf holes.
The club has acquired 25 ha of land adjacent to its existing site on the north-east side, and is working with golf architect Jonathan Gaunt to plan the move. Five entirely new holes are planned to be located on the new land, while four additional new greens will be constructed on the existing site to create a new-look eighteen hole course.
The new ground is currently farmed, but is essentially denatured lowland heath, with sandy subsoil underneath the topsoil that is the creation of many years of manuring and fertilising. Whittington has come to an arrangement with HS2 that will see the new land returned to a heathland state, as part of the rail project’s commitment to mitigate losses elsewhere. HS2 will also provide ongoing funds to assist with maintenance for 15 years.
Club member Keith Ridgway, who now heads the committee liaising with HS2, said: “The ecological element has been an important factor in the plans. While the new golf holes will be constructed to replicate the traditional heathland environment, there’ll also be around ten hectares of heather and acid grassland, four eco ponds, additional hedgerow and woodland, along with public access. The status of the ecological land is preserved by a binding agreement and the golf club is responsible for maintaining it as such on behalf of HS2.”
Construction of the new holes is expected to start in spring 2017. HS2 construction is anticipated to begin in 2018, and the club is determined to maintain eighteen playable holes throughout the process.