Whitburn Golf Club wins appeal after plans were rejected for new 'swing studio' and shop

A golf club has won victory after a council decision to block its bid for an extension was overturned by a Government planning inspector.

Friday, 30th July 2021, 5:37 pm

This aimed to create space for a new golf shop, ‘swing studio’ and an office, alongside proposals to relocate a door to a changing area.

The proposed swing studio included an area for teaching the game and the fitting of golf clubs.

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Whitburn Golf Club

The application said “in modern times, golf clubs cannot be professionally supplied without an assessment of a person’s swing” – with the swing studio being “essential to any modern golf club.”

According to planning documents, the club had also explored alternatives to the extension, such as converting parts of the existing building, but these options were not considered “workable.”

Although South Tyneside Council’s planning department found the plans acceptable in terms of design, biodiversity and highways, planners refused the extension on February 1, 2021.

It said the plans represented an “inappropriate development within the green belt,” and would cause harm to the “spatial and visual openness”.

Whitburn Golf Club

Planners added the proposed development failed to meet the “very special circumstances to outweigh this harm”.

The golf club contested the ruling and lodged an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate, with an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State to assess the council’s decision.

In a report published on July 26, planning inspector John Dowsett ruled in the golf club’s favour and granted planning permission for the extension.

The inspector, who visited the site in May, said the development would “not be inappropriate development within the green belt” and would have a “neutral effect” on its openness.

Key factors in the decision included the context of the site and the size of the proposed extension.

The report reads: “In purely spatial terms, the proposed development would reduce the openness of the green belt by introducing additional built development, albeit small in scale, where previously there was none.

“However, this has to be taken in the context of the proposal being an extension to an existing building that is set within a large car park and which is seen in conjunction with a further single-storey building to the south and a group of buildings a short distance to the north.

“The current clubhouse building has a long, linear, façade that runs roughly parallel to Lizard Lane.

“Whilst the proposal would lengthen this façade by approximately eight metres, this would have little or no additional effect on the openness of the area in visual terms over and above that of the current, existing, building.

“With this in mind, I find that, overall, the proposal would have a neutral effect on the openness of the green belt.”

It adds: “Whilst this part of the green belt forms an enclave of generally open land between the settlements of South Shields, Whitburn, Cleadon and Sunderland, due to the small scale of the proposed development and the fact that it is an extension to an existing building, it cannot be considered as contributing to the sprawl of a built up area.

“Nor would it result in the merging of neighbouring towns or represent encroachment into the countryside.

“It is not suggested that the proposal would affect the setting of a historic town and there is no evidence that it would hinder urban regeneration.”

The full report can be found on the Planning Inspectorate’s website under appeal reference number: APP/A4520/W/21/3268841

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