Golf plans for common and park to be fought

FLOODLIT tennis courts, a huge metal-clad leisure centre and a golf driving range should not be part of the landscape of a London suburban park, protesters will argue at a planning inquiry opening today.

In Chichester, the district council is today expected to grant planning permission to a Japanese firm for a golf course on common land near Liphook, Hampshire.

The two developments illustrate the growing threat to landscapes and habitats from leisure developments.

Labour-controlled Lewisham council in south London wants to lease half of Beckenham Place Park, including its municipal golf course, to David Lloyd plc for 99 years.

As well as the driving range, the firm plans a nine-hole course and the private tennis centre with eight outdoor and 12 indoor courts, plus a swimming pool.

People living nearby have raised a 28,000-signature petition against the plan. Randall North, who chairs the campaign against the developments, said: 'We want a large part of it to remain open and tranquil. The developers say there will still be widespread public access for walkers, but who is going to use it with the danger of flying golf balls?'

The council says the deal is the only way to inject capital into the 'deteriorating' park.

In Hampshire, the Kosaido company wants to build Liphook's fourth course on Bramshott Common. It wants the commoners, who have rights to collect wood and graze cattle, geese and goats there, to continue grazing. But one of them, Mary Holloway, said: 'Our stock would always be at risk from flying golf balls.'