THE news Seaford Town Council intends to go back to the drawing board with the plan for the new golf clubhouse on Seaford Head, deserves a cautious ‘well done’!
There is little doubt we do need a new clubhouse but it is hoped any new plan takes seriously the large number of horrified objections to the previous plan from residents and visitors, and the professional view of the South Downs National Park Authority.
Any new plan must be much more sensitive to the very special natural qualities of the wonderful site and the concerns of local residents, and probably restrict the size and mass of the clubhouse to that already existing and occupying the same footprint.
This fresh look needs to be preceded by greatly improved consultation with all interested parties, and be based on sound business and financial planning to underpin the investment.
There is no need for commercial secrecy about most of this process with information made freely available to the public.
And please drop the plainly mischievous idea the council can borrow large amounts of public money without paying interest and making repayments, at no cost to local taxpayers.
The revised development - probably excluding dedicated function rooms etc. - is likely to be much less expensive (perhaps in the region of £500,000) and earnings from the golf course available to fund community services in the rest of the town should not suffer unduly.
Meanwhile, it is hoped ‘returning to the drawing board’ is not costing Seaford taxpayers another £30,000 in addition to that already spent on the now rejected plan.
There is then the opportunity to encourage public loan funds used in a joint initiative with private sector interests to create a multi-purpose complex, combining much-needed improved community, leisure and hotel facilities, located on a far more suitable town centre site.
Several sites offer potential and could be available, and there is already popular local interest; but it will require a much more sensitive and businesslike initiative from the council to drive such a partnership forward. Are they up for it?
Councillor Bob Sinclair
Seaford Town Council