Plans for a multi-million pound sports resort at the site of a Doncaster golf club have been given the green light.
Bawtry Golf Club in Austerfield will soon see a new pro shop, changing suite, a driving range, sports bar and academy zone centre of excellence.
The plans also include a 76-room hotel with adjoining conference venue, main reception and health and fitness suite together with a bar, dining restaurant and permission for the change of use of land to create a new car park with hundreds of spaces.
The proposal would also include the provision for 130 jobs, being made up of 80 full-time and 50 part-time.
The scheme also includes a controversial proposal to build 18 homes along the boundary of the site which will bring in £3 million to help finance the project.
Taking four years to build, planning officer Garry Hildersley said the golfing amenities would come after 18 months and the hotel and housing would be completed nearer the end of the timescale.
The applicant, Saul Construction Ltd along with Zen Golf who is bringing a ‘new concept’ of the game to Doncaster, aims to get more people into the sport and has piloted a scheme at Balby Carr Academy.
But some councillors were concerned about the erection of a hotel in a rural setting with it primarily being used for Doncaster Sheffield Airport which is a 10 minute drive away.
They also raised questions about 18 properties needed to be built in order to fund the plans.
After a lengthy debate between councillors on Doncaster Council’s planning committee and the applicant, Coun Eva Hughes had to use her deciding vote as chair to push through the plans after members were deadlocked.
John Lee, the architect behind the plans, said: “This is a sustainable scheme that aims to revive and transform an ailing golf club into something that is a very strong with a long future.
“This is a major investment that will greatly benefit Doncaster.”
Nick Middleton of Zen Golf, is the man behind the concept of a shorter form of golf to encourage more families to get involved.
“I believe in this scheme and I wouldn’t be sat here if I didn’t think it would bring huge benefits,” he said.
Coun Jonathan Wood raised concerns around the hotel with its location close to Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
“There’s provision for 400 car parking spaces and I’m just a bit suspicious with its location that this will be used primarily as a airport hotel in a rural setting,” he said.
Mexborough First Coun Peter Pickering said: “We could end up with a situation where Zen Golf leave we’re left with a sport and health spa and a big hotel.”
Coun Dave Shaw added: “This isn’t a question about it being a fantastic scheme or not because it looks great - it’s a question of if it’s appropriate for the location it’s in.”
He voted against the plans and said the ‘golf element was tenuous’.
Planning officer Garry Hildersley said: “The erection of 18 dwellings in the countryside is clearly contrary to local and national policy which seeks to protect the countryside from encroachment and requires that local authorities should look to avoid isolated homes in the countryside unless there are special circumstances that would outweigh the harm being generated.
“The proposed erection of 18 dwellings is clearly recognised as a departure from the development plan and this weighs substantially against the proposal, however the applicant has sought to justify, by providing material planning considerations and circumstances in which the planning harm is outweighed.”
Original source:The Yorkshire Post