Golf course fight not over

Paul Davison Horden Parish Council clerk in Thorpe Road cemetery. Picture by FRANK REID
Paul Davison Horden Parish Council clerk in Thorpe Road cemetery. Picture by FRANK REID

PARISH council chiefs say the fight to block plans to build a golf course near a cemetery is not over.

Planning officers at Durham County Council are expected to recommend approval for a six-hole golf academy and driving range next to Thorpe Road Cemetery, in Horden, when the planning committee meets on Tuesday.

But Horden Parish Council, which objects to the plans over safety and conservation issues, fearing a wayward golf ball could strike someone, say the fight is not over and the decision is “not yet a done deal”.

The Mail reported in 2007, when the plans were first aired, that bereaved relatives visiting the cemetery were against the proposals.

Some feared sliced shots from golfers could hit headstones or distract mourners paying their respects.

Now Horden Parish Council clerk Paul Davison has spoken out about his fears that the application could be approved.

He said: “It should be thrown out.

“There is a working cemetery next door, a Grade II-listed building, Horden Hall, nearby, private residences to the north and to the north west an area of high landscape value where views shouldn’t be obscured.

“It’s not a done deal yet.

“It’s good for the regeneration of the village, but in that location it’s entirely wrong.

“From a parish council perspective, if that development gets built, I’m waiting for someone to be seriously hurt or even killed when golf balls come over and hit somebody.

“If a headstone gets smashed, users of the cemetery will be up in arms.

“I will not be able to get my staff to maintain the cemetery.

He said the application is recommended for approval, but with conditions and pending studies.

But Mr Davison added: “These studies should at least be completed before it goes for approval.”

Grant Folley, Durham County Council senior planning officer, said: “A planning application will only be considered by a committee when sufficient information has been provided by the applicant to allow members to make a decision.

“It is normal procedure to attach conditions to a planning permission in order to ensure that a development is built and managed in line with the original application.

“We can confirm that this application has been advertised in accordance with normal council procedures.”

Farmer Alan Howard, of Horden Hall Farm, who is behind the plans, which include the planting of trees as a screen between the golf course and cemetery, did not wish to comment.