A CONSULTATION on plans to merge two neighbouring golf clubs in a £1m land swap deal has produced mixed results, with the warning that job losses are likely.

Darlington Borough Council is proposing to sell off the municipal Stressholme Golf Course to the privately-owned Blackwell Grange Golf club (BGGC).

The consultation involved local residents, as well as players and staff from Stressholme, with Blackwell’s members having already voted in favour of the deal.

The proposed deal involves Blackwell buying the Stressholme site, with the council buying part of the land at Blackwell, with a view to selling it on for an executive housing development.

A report to members of the council’s cabinet sets out the response to the consultation.

It also notes the possibility of job losses as the merged facilities combine staff. Any redundancy process would affect staff from both Stressholme and Blackwell.

The report concludes: “Residents responded two to one in support of the deal [with Blackwell], however there are significant concerns about the impact on the environment with the possible development of houses.

“This will be addressed through the planning process, with residents having the ability to comment on any proposals.

“The majority of Stressholme golfers are in favour of the deal, but there were concerns about capacity of a merged club, membership rights and pricing.

“Should the deal progress, current Stressholme members have been given an assurance that there is capacity within BGGC to accommodate all Stressholme members should they wish.

“BGGC will positively encourage them to join.

“With regard to pricing, course use and governance, it will be the responsibility of the merged to resolve these matters to the satisfaction of all the membership.

“The merged club will be a business and will need to compete with other clubs and keep members satisfied to be sustainable.

“However, as this is a commercial deal, the council is not in a position to influence the running of the merged club.”

Cabinet members are being asked to consider the outcome of the consultation, as well as approving the sale of Stressholme to BGGC for £750,000 and the purchase of land from Blackwell for £1m.

Monday, July 1 has been earmarked as a target relocation date if the deal progresses as expected. The cabinet meets at 5pm on Tuesday (February 19), at Darlington Town Hall.

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