Pleas to not build on much-loved Sandwell golf course that protected residents' mental health

Green space that residents say protected their mental health during the pandemic should be kept wild and not built on, say campaigners.

Members of Brandhall Green Space Action Group
Members of Brandhall Green Space Action Group

Members of Brandhall Green Space Action Group, made up of residents from Old Warley, Langley, and Bristnall council wards, want to stop urban development on Brandhall Golf Club. The 18-hole course, run by Sandwell Council, closed in May last year, after the council said it was spending £275,000 a year subsidising it.

Action group member Stephen Peugh said the site has “amazing benefits”. He added: “I only discovered it during lockdown, and I didn’t really know about it until it closed. It has really helped me keep going during those difficult times.

“This place is beautiful and I am surprised Sandwell Council wants to redevelop it. If it does, then our nearest green space will be a good few miles away, meaning there will be residents here who will find it difficult to enjoy their local parks or nature reserves.”

Sandwell Council argues the golf club had 318 members, below the expected number for an 18-hole golf course, of which nearly two-thirds lived outside the borough.

AECOM, an engineering firm, has been appointed to carry out consultations for the development for an undisclosed fee. The proposed development, called Brandhall Urban Village, features 550 homes, a new primary school and footpaths and cycle links. The new school would replace Causeway Green Primary.

Member of Brandhall Green Space Action Group Tim Parkes said: “I was here for an hour yesterday and I saw about 25 people come and explore this green space.

“There are three river tributaries that flow into this golf course, and you can see all sorts of wildlife here.”

He added: “It’s interesting that Sandwell council say not many people use this supposedly empty space, because quite often the bins are overflowing, and many of us go out litter-picking to clean up the space so everyone can use it.

“I understand that this development is part of the Black Country Plan. It looks deliberately non-user friendly and opaque. The instructions and images aren’t friendly either.

The golf course was created in 1906 from land at Brandhall Farm.

The farmstead, which was the original club house, has since been demolished.

The golf course was purchased by Oldbury District Council in 1928.

Opening of the M5 motorway in 1970 resulted in a loss of the southwest corner of the golf course.

Old Warley Councillor Jay Anandou, who created the action group, said: “This golf course has 37 hectares of pristine green space, and is home for a bat habitat, fresh water shrimps, newts, more than 30 varieties of birds, badgers, and the very source of the River Tame.

“The local residents are against any development in that greenery which goes against every promise the council has made on promoting wildlife and tackling climate change.

He added: “Any future consultation on this topic should involve resident groups. Sandwell council argue residents do not have an alternative.

“But there are numerous examples around here where green spaces are managed by local residents by forming charity trusts and friends groups.”

The full 90 page report can be seen on Sandwell Council’s planning website under application DC/21/65742.

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