More residents could benefit from sporting and community uses of Entry Hill in Bath and continued golf provision at the Approach site if a proposal to secure a new operator for the sites is agreed.
A report going before Bath & North East Somerset Council’s cabinet on 22nd July details how Entry Hill golf course has had a continued decline in visitors over more than a decade, and operates at a loss to the council of around £80,000 per year.
The report recommends that the council carries out a procurement exercise to find a new operator to run both the Entry Hill and Approach sites for community and sporting provision, but that the Approach should retain golf use for at least the 18-hole course. Bidders would be able to tender for one or both sites.
The council wants to attract more people to enjoy open-air activity at Entry Hill and carried out a consultation between December 2019 and March 2020 to find out how residents want to shape the site for the future.
More than 78% of the 3,200 consultation responses received supported the option of a family cycle centre and urban mountain bike park.
There was also support for the site to become a public park, which was the second most popular proposal.
Other options included a community growing space, outdoor education or continuing to provide a golf course.
The cabinet report also notes that regular golfers have been campaigning to keep Entry Hill as a golf course, and have submitted a petition with 1,000 signatures.
Councillor Paul Crossley, cabinet member for Community Services, said: “Entry Hill is not only part of Bath’s World Heritage Site but is also important as a place where our communities can enjoy the outdoors and stay active.
“As noted in a survey by Sport England, usage of golf courses has sadly been in decline nationally for many years and that is certainly something we’ve seen at both our golfing sites.
“We acknowledge that the idea of changing Entry Hill to a different use is opposed by residents who still enjoy playing golf there, but that the consultation results also show strong opinions from thousands of members of the community who wish to use it differently.
“The cabinet will consider the options in the report very carefully to reach a decision that supports our aim to get more people more active more often, and to meet our carbon-neutral and climate emergency goals.”
GLL has run leisure centres and golf provision in Bath and North East Somerset since being awarded the contract in 2015, after the council offered a separate golf provision contract during the procurement process but received no bids from local or specialist providers.
A further report on a review of the leisure provision across Bath and North East Somerset is due to go before the cabinet on 3rd September, following the council’s financial support of GLL during leisure centre closures due to COVID-19.