Posted: 05.11.19 at 13:47 by Daniel Clark - Local Democracy Reporter
New holiday lodges could be built on the site of a golf course created by former Formula 1 world champion, Nigel Mansell.
Plans have been submitted on behalf of Woodbury Park Hotel and Golf Club for 14 holiday lodge caravans to be sited within the golf course site.
The application outlines how falling numbers of golfers across England is forcing clubs to diversify and that it is necessary to attract golfing markets, such as golf breaks, through ventures similar to the proposed holiday accommodation
A planning statement with the scheme says that with the golfing sector under pressure with declining membership and participation forcing many clubs out of business, they have to look at new ways to attract golf societies and other groups looking for golfing holidays.
One way to do this is through investing in new accommodation and the lodges would add to the existing hotel on the site.
The statement explains how the number of registered golfers has dropped eight per cent in the last four years – down from 712,390 in 2013 to 655,839 in 2017.
Adults playing golf has fallen 27 per cent between 2007 and 2016, and juniors playing golf weekly have dropped five per cent since 2014.
It adds: “In clubs where membership is growing, clubs have taken positive steps to address the issues and are catering for a range of different needs and are developing facilities to broaden income streams and become part of the community.
“People expect more from their visit to the golf club. Gold England advises that clubs should identify opportunities for additional revenue and that every inch of the facility should be maximised with modern facilities that are fit for purpose to meet customer expectation.
"The proposed changes at Woodbury Park Hotel and Golf Club aim to follow a similar pattern, providing further golf accommodation in order to attract more golfers from a wider national market.
“Given the declining popularity of playing golf in England and in order to maintain the business, it is necessary to attract golfing markets, such as golf breaks, through the proposed holiday accommodation.
"This will allow the club to attract more golfers and more visitors to the bars, restaurant, health club and spa, to generate a vital additional income stream.
“There is a clear gap in the market to develop golf break facilities as there are an increasing number of people playing who are not long-term members and are looking for one-off holiday or tourist opportunities.”
The statement says that the 14 holiday lodges would be sited on part of the nine hole golf course, and as a result, the tee of one of the holes would be moved.
It adds that the types of lodges have proven popular with golf societies and those seeking a golf break and that they would be hidden from view and not impact on traffic levels around the site.
Calling for planners to give the scheme the go ahead, the report concludes: “This would support the existing outdoor sporting use and capitalise on the other sport, leisure and tourist activities and existing infrastructure at the club.
"The lodges will nurture the sporting tourist and leisure market, develop the rural economy, and help create and sustain jobs.”
East Devon District Council planners will determine the fate of the application at a later date.