Rookwood Golf Course declared ‘an asset of community value’

New moves have been made in a battle to save Rookwood Golf Course from development.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 5:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 3:50 pm

An application by members of The Horsham Society has been granted to have the golf course registered as ‘an asset of community value.’

But the society is warning that the registration does not safeguard the land’s future.

Horsham District Council wants to build up to 700 houses on the golf course but has faced massive public opposition.

Rookwood Golf Course

Society vice chairman Malcolm Willis said: “Horsham Society is delighted that its application for Rookwood to be listed as an Asset of Community Value has been accepted. It is a clear recognition of the importance of the site.

“This decision is something that Horsham District Council and its councillors will need to take account of when compiling their latest Local Plan.

“But, the registration of the site does not safeguard its future. Therefore, many organisations will continue to work hard to make our councillors take notice that Rookwood is an asset of huge value, not just to golfers but also to town residents.”

He added: “Rookwood isn’t just about golf. It is a high quality green space for the west of the town and forms a green buffer for Warnham Nature Reserve.

“Its accessible walking paths are valued because they feel green and open, despite being on the edge of a densely populated town.

“They provide many opportunities to see a variety of wildlife, much appreciated by all.”

He said the application to have the golf course declared an asset of community value followed “a lot of hard work by Keep Rookwood Green Alliance, Friends of Chesworth Farm, Sally Sanderson and other volunteers.

“We were able to draw together a great deal of evidence to support our application. This included the findings from a survey which has been completed by over 1,600 town residents in which they described the value of Rookwood to them.

“It is important that Horsham District Council recognises the importance of the site and the unprecedented strength of feeling within Horsham. The sheer volume of correspondence over many months in the West Sussex County Times clearly evidenced this, although a number of councillors still refuted it.

“As an Asset of Community Value, we have proven its importance and notice should be taken of this. Indeed, this was clear in the recent elections when the local candidates of all parties campaigned on tickets to keep Rookwood green.

“The official Decision Notice states that, in particular, Rookwood serves as a hub for golfers and the community as a whole.

“The large green space provides opportunities for physical activity, leisure and health activities that promote the health and wellbeing of local residents.

“Rookwood is the only municipal pay and play golf course in the district. It is readily accessible to all, especially those unable to afford private club membership, or who cannot play regularly enough to make private membership viable.”

Horsham District Councillor Christine Costin thanked the society, along with other groups in the town, for their work in achieving the ‘community asset’ status.

She added: “Although it does not remove all the threats, this decision is good news.

“This public golf course is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty and is environmentally managed to deliver healthy exercise for the community whilst encouraging nature to thrive throughout the course and along the riversides - all of which supports Warnham Local Nature Reserve.

“Time to love and appreciate these locally treasured green spaces!”