Exeter planners ignore hundreds of protesters to back a new golf driving range on a ‘tranquil’ spot for wildlife

Exeter planners have ignored hundreds of protesters and given the go-ahead to new golf driving range on a ‘tranquil’ spot for wildlife.

Golfers in Exeter will have a new driving range on which to hone their skills despite hundreds of objections from people living nearby, writes local democracy reporter Guy Henderson.

Exeter City Council’s planning committee met on Monday (June 19) to consider the plan for an eight-bay driving range off Topsham Road. The plan was submitted by Will Gannon, chairman of Exeter Golf and Country Club.

The land is currently agricultural, and leads directly into Ludwell Valley Park.

Exeter

Ludwell Valley Park, Exeter.
Photo: LDRS.

Members of the committee deferred a decision on the application last month, asking the golf club to make changes to the application on opening times, noise management and other issues.

There were 340 separate objections to the plan when it was advertised, and ward Councillor Jane Begley (Lab, Priory) read a statement from objectors which said: “Can you hear 340 incensed voices behind me?”

The statement went on: “The field is a centre for wildlife. It should not be devastated. This field is an amenity that we are not prepared to relinquish.”

Objectors said the golf club was wrong to assume that a driving range would be a permitted use of land in the valley park and added: “The field must remain a tranquil and peaceful place.”

The application was first submitted in 2021 and, said objectors, had now been revised to achieve a ‘less worse’ impact. “We need to decide whether ‘less worse’ is acceptable,” they said.

“We should not allow the land to be developed for a few private individuals.”

Mr Gannon told the committee that the golf club’s focus was not only on providing sporting facilities for the people of Exeter but also on charity and community work.

And Cllr Matthew Williams (Lab, Topsham) said: “As a council we think about opportunities for recreation, and this fits in with what we as a council are trying to achieve.”

The committee voted by eight votes to four to allow the driving range to go ahead.

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