Glimmer of Hope For Allestree Park Golf Course
Article by Golfshake Ambassador Andy Picken
Derby City Council has announced a welcome change in its position on Allestree Park Golf Course via its local councillor's Facebook page.
"In a bid to dispel rumours, Allestree councillors have received assurances from City Council Leaders that the Golf Course will remain in a mothballed (playable) condition post the closure on December 31st for at least the short-term future."
I think this decision by the council is utterly sensible as it allows time to take stock.
There are interested bidders in taking on the course, but that bidding process will have to accord to council rules and regulations and be seen to be fair to all. Placing the course in this status for a few weeks in the winter will not dramatically affect it going forward.
The council had announced closure on 31st December 2020, but sensibly have stepped back from that position to allow the bid process and give those interested in keeping it as a golf course the time to formulate acceptable bids.
I applaud this decision.
I have an announcement as well.
I am convinced that the Allestree Park Golf Course is an original Harry S Colt design from 1929. So, convinced in fact that I have submitted an application to Historic England for Allestree Park, lake and golf course to be registered as a Designated Historic Landscape.
This is an in-depth, academic level dissertation that will be scrutinised by global experts in the field. I do not know of any other golf courses with such a designation.
Prior to putting my neck on the chopping block as the author of the document I have consulted a team of Colt design experts who operate around the globe. If you want to know more about Harry S Colt, please visit The Harry Colt Project.
(The Harry Colt Designed Allestree Park)
The expert running this site has reviewed my submission material and has already altered the Allestree Park links to reflect my latest research.
For me, this is like an Antiques Roadshow moment.
The course history has been hidden from 1930 to 1948. All councils since that time have failed to recognise that they own a course of such design status. I understand competing demands with cuts in all areas but there is also an obligation to protect our heritage for future generations.
If the Designated Historic Landscape process is successful, it makes Allestree Park globally unique.
It would offer opportunities for grant applications from all users of the park. The walkers, the Friends of Allestree Park, the Conservation Trust, the lake users, and the fishing club. It enhances the value of the site to the Council and the golf course users. This designation will in no way impact on the sale of Allestree Hall. That is already fully protected by its grade 2 * listing.
I applaud the plans for its development and have seen how sympathetically the same team of developers have undertaken restoration at Darley Abbey Mills. They have local connections, and an active, vibrant golf course with this kind of provenance and history can only add value to their investment. If this application is successful it is a win for all parties going forward.
Strangely, the years of neglect potentially add value as so little has changed from the original design and layout. Many private courses are tinkered with by different generations to add their own mark. This hasn’t happened at Allestree Park as the course has been left unloved and treated with the minimum amount of care and maintenance.
Colt has over 320 global designs. Only three are not in private ownership. Allestree Park is one of those three.
It is accessible to all, all ages, creeds and genders from 4 to 104. With the handicap system, golf is one of the few totally accessible sports globally. Current demand is at an all-time high.
Closure should not be an option at this time, and I am ecstatic that the council has changed its position.
There are design features at Allestree Park that we have uncovered that were so special that postcards were created for those visiting to take home as a keepsake.
Newspaper front pages of the day featured a hole-by-hole description for the use of the golfers who travelled from all over the Midlands to compete. Its first club professional was Tom Barber who came 5th in The Open and was a Ryder Cup player in the 1930s.
This announcement has given me some real comfort as the application for the Designated Historic Landscape status has no legal power attached to it to prevent the council from visiting on 3rd January 2021 and filling in bunkers.
This announcement is a clear indication that nothing will be done to harm or damage the course. I welcome that as good management of the rapidly changing issues. It is after all a valuable asset that increases in value after each layer of research.
This is a wonderful community facility and if it is nurtured could become a real asset, bringing jobs and tourism to the area, such is the cache that the Colt name offers in the golf world.
It is incredible to me that hundreds of thousands of rounds of golf have been played at the venue and it is only now that the full story regarding its history and heritage is becoming public.
It has been an absolute privilege to have a ringside seat at its Cinderella moment.
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