On 22nd January 2014, Bracknell Forest councillors voted in majority favour of releasing land at Blue Mountain golf course from a Section 52 planning agreement dated February 1990, which protects the land from being built upon.
In February a final decision on whether to remove this legal covenant will be taken by Chris Turrell, Executive Member for Planning and Transport at Bracknell Forest Council.
BlueMountain Golf & Conference Centre is operated by the Crown Golf group, the UK’s largest owner / operator of golf clubs. The group has responded with this statement on the matter fom Matthew Lynwood, Property Director, Crown Golf
“Last week over 2,000 local residents staged a protest campaign against the removal of the Section 52 Blue Mountain covenant, and we expect the local community will continue to unite against this proposed development.
“There is still an extensive planning process to go through. Realistically, any development – if it proceeds – remains years off. Bracknell Forest Council cannot proceed with the development until it has obtained detailed planning approval. It may take several years for them to get into this position, and there is certainly no guarantee that they will succeed.
“The planning process involves the submitting of formal applications, undertaking consultations with local residents, and placing specific and detailed proposals before the planning committee for approval. Ecology, Traffic, Infrastructure, Design and other surveys will all need to be undertaken to accompany an application.
“Let us consider the events of recent months. In mid-2013, the independent Government planning inspector approved Bracknell Forest Council’s Site Allocations Local Development Plan (SALP) Policy 7 plans to zone the Blue Mountain land for potential future housing and schooling developments, and the 130-acre site which includes Blue Mountain G&CC and its surroundings is included in a ‘Long Term Zoning’ process contained in the Council’s plan which guides development in the Bracknell area over a 20 year period.
“This formally identifies future land in the Bracknell area which the town may – and we emphasise ‘may’ – expand into at some point over the next two decades.
“There are several other ‘Zoned’ areas in our neighbourhood which were allocated that status many years ago, on which no redevelopment work has yet begun. This is just one of the many reasons why BlueMountain members, customers, suppliers and staff need not be concerned for years to come.
“As well as being one of Berkshire’s most popular golfing destinations, open to the public, Blue Mountain Golf & Conference Centre is also a highly popular conference, functions and weddings venue in the local area.
“Our members, visiting golfers, wedding customers, and meetings / conference planners can rest assured that it is absolutely business as usual at BlueMountain.
“This process is creating a degree of uncertainty for Blue Mountain’s staff and many loyal customers, but we have a long term lease over the site with our landlord and fully expect that the substantial planning challenges which Bracknell Forest Council will face, against what is likely to be strong local opposition, will extend this process over many years to come.
“If we also factor in the current economic climate, finding funding for this sort of large-scale development will not be easy.”
James Elster, General Manager, Blue Mountain Golf & Conference Centre, said, “We have a lot of support from the local community and as a popular part of that community our message to our customers and supporters is simple: any change is years ahead.
“People will be golfing, partying, meeting, and of course getting married, right here at BlueMountain for many years to come.”
Crown Golf www.crown-golf.co.uk