Ridgway creates new golf plans for SportsHub MK development

Ridgway creates new golf plans for SportsHub MK development
Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Ridgway Golf Design has created new golf plans for a sporting redevelopment project in Milton Keynes, England, called SportsHub MK.

The proposal sees the existing 18-hole Windmill Hill golf course being converted into a nine-hole course and a nine-hole par three layout, plus a driving range and practice area.

“The initial brief was to produce concept plans for redeveloping the existing Windmill Hill golf course into a centre of sporting excellence for a number of different sports including tennis, badminton, rugby and cricket, as well as community facilities, a gymnastics club, soft play, a business hub and a hotel,” said Stephen Ridgway.

The golf element of the original plan was a driving range and a par-three course. “Following consultation with residents however, the brief changed somewhat because they wanted to retain a natural outlook from their properties and the golf club members wanted more than just a par-three course to play,” said Ridgway. “It was decided that the golfing element would be increased by introducing a longer nine-hole course to wrap around the boundary with the existing housing, as well and reducing the footprint of the other sporting facilities.

“The current golf course is a bit up and down, and flanked predominantly by large poplar trees that are nearing the end of their lives. Virtually the entire golf course will be redesigned, and we’ll retain the existing mixed woodland copses where possible and all the boundary vegetation.

“New water features and mounding will be incorporated into the design of both golf courses to provide greater variety and challenge for golfers as well as creating visual interest,” continued Ridgway. “Whilst the main course will retain a parkland feel to it through extensive additional tree planting, the par-three course will be more open with tall, fescue roughs and a naturalistic bunker style.”

The nine-hole course plan has holes ranging between 115 and 563 yards.

Ridgway said: “The detailed design of the holes has yet to be started and it is hoped that all the holes will be memorable but the first and ninth on the main course, over water and in front of the hotel, will probably be the standout holes for most golfers. I imagine the island green on the ninth will be the focus for most golfers playing the par-three course.”

The developer of the project, Evolve Group, approached Ridgway following a collaboration on the Boundary Lakes course at the Ageas Bowl development in Southampton in 2014, as well as a 27-hole adventure golf course overlooking Furzton Lake in Milton Keynes, which is due to break ground in a couple of months.

“The entire golfing element of the development has great sustainability credentials,” said Ridgway. “The facility will provide an opportunity for the entire demographic to try their hand at the game of golf as well as retaining a challenging course for those who take their golf a bit more seriously.

“From an environmental standpoint, the proposed water features will be designed to store water falling on the development site, including all buildings, hard surfaces and the driving range, and reuse it either for irrigation or within the buildings themselves. They will also provide new habitats for wildlife, improving the site’s biodiversity and making it a natural haven within a predominantly built up area.

“It is also hoped that a number of renewable energy sources will be included along with incorporating energy efficiency measures within the buildings. The whole development will create hundreds of new job opportunities for the local area.”

Public consultation continues until mid-March and it is hoped that a planning application will be submitted by late spring. Ridgway says that construction could begin by the end of the year or early 2021.