'This is our Jerusalem!' say protestors in fight to prevent housing on Bognor Golf Club

Residents came together to protest a proposed housing development on Bognor Golf Club last night (November 26)

"This is our Jerusalem!" were the words of Felpham resident Simon Wild at last night's (November 26) protest against a proposed housing development on Bognor Regis Golf Club.

A reference to that immortal William Blake poem, which was written in a Felpham cottage not far from the club itself, It spoke to the concerns of several residents at the demonstration: that the loss of the site will contribute to the continued erasure of Felpham's identity.

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"Because planning permission has already gone in for the LEC airfield site, that means there's no local gap," Mr Wild said, addressing the approximately 100 protestors gathered outside the Golf Club. "There's no Felpham. There's no Bersted. It all washes into one. Our route to the Downs disappears. We lose everything, and we lose it for the next thousand generations."

protestors outside the golf club

The golf club itself, meanwhile, could be set to move to 'a new and available' site north of Ancton. In a letter to club members released last week, owners said the move was inspired by a number of "long-term, fundamental issues, including, winter playability, increasingly tiring facilities and encroachment from housing on our Eastern boundary."

Last night's meeting coincided with a presentation to club members regarding the nature of the proposals, which is due to be followed up by an online public consultation from November 29 to December 06. This, the golf club has said, "Will provide an opportunity for members and the local community to comment on the proposals ahead of the targeted submission (of the plans) to Arun District Council at the end of the year."

Even so, many residents feel the this will not be enough to address their fears for the site and what it mean for Felpham.

"I'm concerned about the weeklong consultation and I'd like to see a far more transparent procedure in terms of talking with the wider community," said Arun district councillor and Felpham resident Matt Stanley. "As far as I'm aware, there's no opportunity on the table for the local community to have a question and answer session with the people who are driving these proposals, and that's really important because not only will it affect Felpham the village, it will have a huge impact on the wider Bognor town."

Other residents expressed concerns about flood risks on the new builds, the environmental impact, the effect on local infrastructure and the loss of valuable green space.

"Why not build the new houses where the new golf course might be? it's bad enough with the other estate behind it," one resident said.

"The school is full. Any children that move into Downview won't be able to go to school because there's no space," another added.

A spokesperson for the golf club has said that current proposals, which have yet to be made public, include provisions for 65 acres of woodland and recreational areas. They went on to add that all revenue from the sale of the current site is set to go into the development of new facilities elsewhere, which will make the new golf club a 'benchmark site' when it eventually opens.