Golf Club submits plans to improve clubhouse and create 39-bed hotel

Sand Martins Golf Club hotel
An artist's impression of the new Sand Martins hotel

PLANS to develop a Finchampstead golf club have been labelled ‘greenwashing’ by a local councillor.

Sand Martins Golf Club, on Finchampstead Road, is seeking planning permission to improve its clubhouse and install new facilities on site.

After submitting an application to develop the Club in December 2019, the owners withdrew after receiving feedback that their plans were “too ambitious”.

Now, Sarah Kerr, Liberal Democrat councillor for Evendons ward, has criticised the revised proposal and said when it comes to the environment, “[the owners] could do better”.

Sand Martins Golf Club’s latest planning application proposes expanding the existing clubhouse, as well as building a new restaurant and venue building.

It would comprise 39 bedrooms, new function rooms, a kitchen and a staff room.

Car parking space, including more than 200 new parking bays,
20 cycling spaces and 10 disabled bays is also included in the plans, alongside landscaping and an electrical substation.

A parallel application has also been submitted to relocate the club’s existing greenkeepers’ compound.

Matthew Short, general manager of Sand Martins Golf Club, said: “Despite 2020 being a very challenging year, the club continues to evolve proposals that will ensure it is on sound financial footing and is able to continue to invest in the long-term future of the club.

“Our latest proposals represent a change in direction, which is far more respectful of the existing environment.”

However, Cllr Kerr believes the club’s plans are not as environmentally-friendly as they seem.

“They’re meeting environmental targets which is fine, but these targets are quite dated now,” she explained. “The plans aren’t in line with local and national climate change targets.”

The planning application proposes turning 10% of the new parking bays into electric vehicle charging points, but Cllr Kerr said every single space should have the infrastructure to become a charging bay too.

“The government is banning sales of new combustion engine cars from 2030, so it’s just not good enough,” she said.

The councillor also questioned why solar panels have not been proposed for the roof of the car park, which could help power the development while generating extra income.

“Some could be sold back to the grid to make some more money,” she said.

“And I also wonder why they’re not using modular technology to build units off site. That would reduce the number of construction vehicles, which would be better for local residents in terms of air and
noise pollution,” she added.

Cllr Kerr has since written to the owners of Sand Martins Golf Club to highlight her concerns but said that in principle, she is in support of the application.

“It’s ensuring the survival of a local business at a time when the economy has been hit so hard,” she said.

“It’s also much more in keeping with its surroundings compared to the original application.”

The public consul-tation is ongoing until Tuesday, February 23.

The planning application number is 210179 and can be found at www.wokingham.gov.uk/planning

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