People in and around Leamington have shown their appreciation for Newbold Comyn and concern for its future in the largest response to an online consultation Warwick District Council has ever received.
The council closed the 300-acre country park’s municipal golf course in December 2017 due to Mack Golf, the company in charge of it, breaking its contract. And since then the council has been considering what to do with the open space and last summer held a public consultation in regard to the issue.
A report to the council’s executive members, which will be considered at a meeting on Wednesday, says: “A survey to understand the relationship between residents and the Newbold Comyn area was launched on August 18 and closed on September 15, 2018.
"The survey generated 3,270 responses - the highest number of responses to an online council consultation.
"Questions focused on the relationship between people and the place e.g. how they use it, how they perceive it, what they value and any concerns they have.
"This provides context to any proposals for future uses.
“It did not ask about specific future uses as it was felt there wasn’t a clear evidence base to evaluate the extensive list of uses that such a survey could generate.”
Results of the survey show that most of the respondents viewed Newbold Comyn in a positive light with 38.5 per cent of them saying they felt safe there and most agreeing that the country park is easy to park at and maintained to a high standard.
Most also agreed they would be happy to pay for activities if this contributed to maintaining the Comyn.
Most people’s concerns regarding the future of the Comyn are in regard to property development and/or a loss of amenity on the land.
But the council has already dismissed the possibility of the former taking place.
A consultant report provided to the council by SLC includes a shortlist of possible future uses for part of the former golf course.
These include a ‘redesigned golf offer’ such as a par-3 course, driving range and reinstating pitch ‘n’ putt.
An outdoor activity centre including high ropes, zip wires, cycle trails and archery is also on the list as is a 3G artificial turf floodlit and fenced pitch.
A nature reserve and visitor centre have also been shortlisted.
It appears though that the former 18-hole golf course being re-opened is not likely to be an option that the authority will consider.
The report says: “Based on a high-level commercial assessment of each of the options, SLC has suggested that the right combination on facilities with the right market conditions could provide a positive net revenue position of £100,000 per annum.
“This compares to a commercial assessment of re-provision of an 18-hole golf course which is likely to require an annual subsidy of £100,000 in addition to reinstatement costs.”
The next stage for the council will include putting together a masterplan and business appraisal for the area.