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HS2 could kill off historic golf course

Staffordshire | News | Published:

One of the country's oldest golf clubs which is set to be sliced in half by HS2 could be forced out of business, bosses have warned.

The Victorian clubhouse at Whittington Heath Golf Club is earmarked for demolition, with the 225mph trains whizzing through a 300ft wide swathe affecting a minimum of eight holes on the 128-year-old course.

The course, which is set in rare heathland, has been told by HS2 Ltd it could continue operating with nine-holes. But bosses say unless there are 18 holes throughout and after construction it could be forced out of business - putting 32 jobs and the club shop at risk.

In total the £50 billion line will cover 10 acres of the course at the club which has 650 members.

Club bosses are now proposing that the high-speed line is built in a 'cut and cover' tunnel through the site or that nearby land is purchased to extend the course to replace the area lost.

They have expressed their concerns in writing to Parliament in a petition against the Hybrid Bill which if passed by MPs will allow HS2 to be built.

"The solution proposed in the environmental statement is for the club to continue with a nine hole course. That is simply not a realistic option and is very unlikely to succeed commercially," the club's petition states.

"In any event, the club and the owner of the golf shop business should be properly compensated for any losses incurred as a carrying out of the works.

"The club fears that if it were forced into becoming a nine hole course then it may well cease to exist," it added.

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Nearly 150 acres of rare heathland will be torn up near Whittington Barracks and 129 acres of ancient woodland around Lichfield affected.

The Whittington Heath Golf Club site was home of Lichfield racecourse, and the Victorian grandstand was later converted into today's clubhouse.

Wildlife experts warn of the adverse impact of the first phase of the scheme between London and Lichfield which could see construction start by 2017.

As part of construction, four thousand extra journeys will be made by trucks, cars, and construction vehicles every day for up to three years to build the seven-mile stretch of HS2 around Lichfield.

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Work includes building seven viaducts, 12 bridges and underpasses, six miles of embankments, 1.2 miles of cuttings, 28 satellite construction sites for hundreds of workers, three major sites to dump dug-up earth, and numerous road and footpath diversions and closures.

Barn owl roosting sites, rare newt species and otters have been spotted in the area which will be ripped up by the line.

Ancient woodlands, wetlands and heathland will also be affected.

Documents estimate that 2.1 million tons of material and earth will be excavated.

And there will be five construction compounds.

Two major embankments – one 2,723ft long and 32ft high will run from Whittington Heath Golf Club over Lichfield Road.

The other runs north west of Darnford Lane joining the Cappers Lane viaduct and is 705ft long and 47ft high.

Once built, HS2 is planned to carry up to 24 trains an hour – 12 in each directions – on this stretch passing non-stop through Lichfield at speeds up to 225mph.

In total, HS2 will cut through 45 miles of Staffordshire countryside.

Ben Ruse, HS2 lead spokesperson, said: "HS2 Ltd is continuing discussions with the Whittington Heath Golf Club. Petitioning is an important part of the hybrid Bill process and the Club's petition will now be considered by the Bill Committee."

Among the 2,000 groups and individuals challenging the HS2 legislation include the banking Rothschild family, Princess Diana's brother Earl Spencer, and the Church of England.

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