Anger as Letchworth Golf Club given green light to expand

Letchworth Golf Club

Letchworth Golf Club - Credit: Archant

A GOLF club expansion given the green light this week has been labelled a “serious error”.

Herts County Council’s development control committee unanimously agreed on Tuesday to Letchworth Golf Club being expanded, despite a petition of more than 260 signatures from Hitchin and Letchworth GC residents registering concerns.

One Hitchin resident, who lives on Queenswood Drive and asked to remain anonymous, said: “I was very disappointed that it was agreed. I feel like we have been bullied into this without being given any thought to what the people of Hitchin want.

“My main concern is the safety. Willian Road is an ice rink in the winter and they have made a serious error in allowing this to go through.

“Letchworth Golf Club will get all the benefit from a small number of elite people, but the Queenswood Drive area will have no benefit at all. We have been bullied into having our health, properties and wildlife damaged.”

Mike Dandy, of Greenway, Letchworth GC, said: “Provided that everything is properly controlled I don’t have a problem with the golf club expanding.”

But he added: “I would much rather it not happen and the disruption is going to be difficult.”

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Residents living in Aubreys, Letchworth GC, and Queenswood Drive voiced their concerns over the original route in and out of the site.

It was proposed to create a temporary construction entrance from Willian Road and temporary construction exit from Letchworth Lane at Letchworth Golf Club for lorries.

The route was later revised after residents hit out over safety fears.

Now, vehicles arriving at the site will travel from the A1(M) through Letchworth GC, down Cambridge Road, along Queenswood Drive, and up Willian Road. Vehicles leaving the site will exit onto Willian Road from a temporary exit. Protected hedge row will have to be removed to allow for visibility.

Residents will have to put up with 130 HGV movements daily Monday to Friday and 70 HGVs on a Saturday.

Aubreys resident Pam Burn said: “Many of us who raised objections were not against the golf club’s aims in relation to the creation of an academy course, we simply felt that the process of getting there needed to be as sympathetic as possible to local residents, who are going to be greatly inconvenienced over a substantial period of time.

“The approval from HCC contains some 30 conditions, which seem to cover most of the concerns we raised at the outset and on that basis, I believe many local residents will be content.”

North Herts district councillor, Cllr Terry Hone, who represents Letchworth South and lives near Aubreys himself, said the right decision has been made.

“It is a classic case of where officers, planners and residents have worked together,” he added.

“The people that I represent are very happy. I acknowledge there will be traffic disruptions and that it won’t be great for people in North Herts, but you have to do that to put up with it for future development.”

Plans were submitted in May by the golf club, which is situated on Letchworth Lane, to remodel the existing practice grounds, develop a multi-shot driving range and build an academy course of six holes.

Residents’ hopes now lie with Eric Pickles, the secretary of state, who has 21 days to approve the plans or reject them, in which case an appeal could then be launched.