Access to conference centre proposed at golf club sparks concerns

Artist's impression of the new conference centre
Artist's impression of the new conference centre

An application to build a conference centre at a golf course near Crowborough has been deferred due to concerns around the impact of a new access road on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

On Thursday (March 7), Wealden District Council’s planning committee north considered proposals to build a conference centre and replacement clubhouse at the Boars Head Golf Centre in Eridge Road.

Planners raised a number of concerns with the proposals as presented, but opted to defer the application to ask developers to submit alternative proposals for access to the site rather than refusing the application outright.

The access road as proposed – to connect the site to the A26 – would have run alongside a house and behind a number of others, including a listed property.

Commenting on the proposed access, Peter Roundell (Con. Danehill, Fletching and Nutley) said: “I love all this agricultural palette and this softly-dressed track and organic parking.

“However, the fact of the matter is, 500m of tarmacked road is going to go in and across the front of a listed building. I have seen the possible effect of that from that listed building.

“If the existing access was struck to there would be no need for that and I would have thought the cost of putting in 500m of tarmacked building would be rather substantial.”

Concerns were also raised about the loss of sporting facilities from the site, as the nine-hole golf course would become closed to the public and only available for private hire.

The proposals also included the demolition of an existing clubhouse and driving range, which would have been removed in an effort to reduce visitor numbers at the site.

In light of these concerns the committee considered refusing the application outright but opted to defer it instead after a tied vote.

As part of the deferral, the committee directed officers to ask developers to take a second look at the access proposals.

Cllr Neil Waller (Con. – Crowborough North) said: “I think if we can sort the access out it will sort out a lot of our concerns.”

Before making a decision, the committee had heard representations from a number of objectors and several speakers representing the developer.