Golfers' range plans face being bunkered

GOLFERS face being blocked in their bid to open a driving range near Edinburgh Airport due to a row over development in the green belt.

The 750-member Turnhouse Golf Club wants to open the facility and replace its century-old clubhouse which is racking up mounting repair bills. Five homes would also be created in derelict buildings at the course.

Club members hoped the scheme would attract hundreds of youngsters to the sport ahead of the Ryder Cup in Scotland in 2014.

But the plans have run into trouble because the city council classifies the driving range, as well as the five homes, as unacceptable development in the countryside.

The club, established in 1897, has submitted plans to the city council, but the scheme is set to be thrown out due to the council’s stand on the green belt.

However, golf club chiefs have raised objections to the council’s stand and argued their case to a public inquiry into the local authority’s planning blueprint for rural west Edinburgh

David Cullum, honorary secretary of Turnhouse Golf Club, said the club was desperate to open the driving range to cater for young golfers and members of the public.

"The very nature of the [council’s] local plan puts our plans in jeopardy. In many ways, the objection is a technical one," he said.

"There is a mounting repair bill for the clubhouse. There have been 11 extensions in the last 100 years to the clubhouse and keeping it together is uneconomic," he added.

Under the local plan for rural west Edinburgh, which sets out the principles for what development can and cannot take place in the area, any golf development is restricted to a clubhouse and storehouse.

A new driving range is only allowed if it is within or right beside an urban area, according to the planning blueprint.

The plans for new homes would also fall foul of the local plan.

Ian Anderson, treasurer of Corstorphine Community Council, said local residents had no problems with the re-development of Turnhouse Golf Club. He said: "They are using existing disused buildings and making better use of them. We can not object to that.

"We took the position that, in our eyes, the proposal does not contravene the spirit of recreation in the green belt. We didn’t feel it would destroy the open space."

A spokesman for Edinburgh City Council said today it would be "inappropriate" to comment while the inquiry was ongoing.

The public inquiry into the future of rural west Edinburgh is not expected to finish until the end of March.

It will hear evidence from scores of witnesses with Scottish Executive reporters also dealing with hundreds of written submissions.

Among the proposals in the local plan are the creation of 1000 new houses in the Kirkliston/Ratho Station area. Plans to create a second primary school on the outskirts of Kirkliston are also outlined.

Economic development in the area will also be discussed, with sites at Gogarburn and Newbridge earmarked as significant areas for future business development.

And major new transport projects, including a heavy rail link to Edinburgh Airport, a new rail station at Newbridge and the controversial tram proposals, will all be subject to scrutiny.

Lothian Golf Club, the fore- runner of Turnhouse Golf Club, was formed in 1893, but began a search for its own course just four years later.

The original version of the current course was opened in 1897 and expanded to 18 holes by 1900.

The present clubhouse, which replaced the original wooden hut version, was built in 1910.

The course itself remained largely unchanged from 1900 until 1924, before alterations suggested by designer James Braid and another major change in 1950 with the opening of the practice ground and the seventh and eighth holes.