Derby City Council has decided to close Allestree Park golf course for good from the end of this year.
In January, a consultation on the future of the course was launched by the city council and invited expressions of interest from golf course operators.
This happened after the potential buyer of the adjacent Grade II*-listed Allestree Hall indicated they wanted to turn it into a wedding venue but did not want to operate the golf course.
News about the closure has caused sadness and dismay among the users of the golf course.
While the decision on the future of the course was under review, Alan Maguire, chairman of Allestree Park Golf Club, said it was unlikely that a operator would come forward because the sale of the hall removed the facilities that are needed for the course, such as clubhouse, equipment sheds, kitchen and toilets.
But he said he felt that the council could be persuaded by public opinion to continue to maintain the golf course and to provide the necessary facilities using a small proportion of the funds acquired from the sale of the hall.
However, despite three quarters of consultees saying they believed the course was important and should be retained, the council has decided, “following due consideration of the outcomes of both the consultation and expressions of interest exercises, that no viable business proposals to operate the golf course were submitted and that golf provision at Allestree Park would cease on 31 December”.
The council says that the golf course will be returned to parkland and the sale of Allestree Hall is expected to be completed in the New Year.
Derby Council, as Derby Corporation, purchased Allestree Hall and park in about 1947 and two years later constructed the golf course which surrounds the hall.
Allestree Park, which is 129 hectares, is the biggest public open space in Derby and in 2002 it was designated as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) – the largest in Derbyshire.
The LNR is managed by the Allestree Park LNR Management Advisory Group, which is a partnership between the city council, the Friends of Allestree Park, and the Conservation Volunteers and covers land outside the golf course.
The golf club was founded in 1930 as the Derbyshire Golf Club when a course first opened.
It closed during the war and re-opened as Allestree Park Golf Club in 1948.
A nine-hole golf course was created in 1947 and in 1955 this was extended to eighteen-holes. It was designed by Harry S Colt, who also created the world famous courses at Portrush, Sunningdale, Woodhall Spa and Wentworth.
Allestree Hall has been unoccupied for more than 40 years and is in a poor state of repair requiring an estimated £2.8m in repairs and is listed on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register.
People have been expressing their sorrow at the closure on social media. Among them is Graham Macready, who wrote: “This is a tragedy for the city. I grew up in Derby and was introduced to the game at Allestree Park, eventually becoming completely hooked by it. Had some wonderful times there and many years as a member. Even now every hole is indelibly engraved into my mind!”
Similar sentiments were expressed by Tony Garside, who said: “Really sad for a fantastic golf course. I have had great times playing there.”
And also Alan Chapman who added: “As if this year has not been bad enough what terrible news. Really enjoyed playing that course many Happy memories with many different friends. Can still run every hole through my memory. Sad sad day.”
Many of the comments from people described the course has being “best municipal course in the region” and others suggesting they want to get “one more round in” after lockdown is lifted.
A city council spokesman said: “It is anticipated that the disposal of Allestree Hall will be completed in the New Year, paving the way for the building to be transformed into a wedding and event venue.
“Allestree Park will continue to be a public park, and work will begin in the New Year to decommission the course and incorporate it into the existing parkland.”