Four-year battle over golf course ends as developer loses its housing appeal

Olympian Louis Smith
CHANGES: The 18-hole course would have to be reshaped

Owners of Hawkhurst Golf Course had wanted to redevelop the land to build a new housing estate as well as a relief road that would have cut through the middle of the 18-hole course.

The existing clubhouse and squash courts would have been demolished under the proposals and the golf course reshaped to accommodate the homes that included social housing and sheltered housing.

PLAN: The proposed housing site

Opposition from residents and environmental groups has been significant. Hundreds of emails and letters were submitted to planning authority to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) in opposition to the plan.

A protest group, Save Hawkhurst, was also set up while Hawkhurst Parish Council also objected to the golf course’s plan.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council eventually refused planning permission last year and club owners CedarDrive appealed against the decision to the Planning Inspector.

But on Thursday February 10 the government inspector threw out the golf course owner’s appeal as not being ‘in the public interest’.

Planning Inspector Owen Woodwards, who held the appeal hearing last September, ruled that the proposed road would involve substantial engineering work and a loss of trees in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

He refused the planning appeal even though there is a shortage of housing in the area.

The decision ends a four-year battle between Cedar Drive, the parish council and resident groups after the golf club first proposed the plans in 2018.

The Parish Council described the decision as ‘wonderful news’.

CLERK: Clare Escombe

Clare Escombe, Chairman of Hawkhurst Parish Council, said in a newsletter to residents: “This decision was monumentally important for the whole village.

“If this application had been approved, it would have dramatically changed Hawkhurst forever.

“I am incredibly proud of what we achieved by working together as a community.

“Thank you all for everything you did and for your support.”

Cedar Drive was approached for comment.

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