Golf club hop­ing for hole lot of luck

Speak­ing up for town’s his­toric links

Ayrshire Post - - Prestwick News -

Less than a year ago – on this very page – I ar­gued the case for an Ayr­shire coastal “com­mis­sion” that would mon­i­tor ev­ery de­vel­op­ment that might af­fect our pre­cious shore­line.

An as­tute, re­spected and in­de­pen­dent body, its re­mit would be to act for the long term greater good of the Ayr­shire coast and its stake­hold­ers - and is­sue uni­form guide­lines to pre­vent North, East and South Ayr­shire coun­cils pep­per­ing our seascapes with all kinds of piece­meal shore­line de­vel­op­ments.

Sadly, such a badly- needed su­per­vi­sory power is still only a fig­ment of my imag­i­na­tion.

But had it ex­isted – it would have poured over builder Mc­Carthy and Stone’s ‘ Le­goland’ plans for the former Mal­colm Sar­gent House site at Prest­wick . . . be­fore hob­bing them into the near­est bin!

As it is, neigh­bour­ing Prest­wick Golf Club have taken the le­gal ‘ last re­sort’ and pe­ti­tioned for a ju­di­cial re­view of South Ayr­shire Coun­cil’s de­ci­sion to grant plan­ning ap­proval.

Suc­cess­fully over­turn­ing SAC’s Novem­ber 2017 de­ci­sion is the le­gal equiv­a­lent of hol­ing a 30 footer on Prest­wick’s 18th green.

Only six per cent of in­di­vid­ual ju­di­cial re­views suc­ceed.

But they can take com­fort in the clas­sic 2012 ju­di­cial re­view when plan­ning per­mis­sion for wind tur­bines was chal­lenged be­cause they were in the flight path of ospreys nest­ing hun­dreds of miles away!

Lord Hope ruled that while no in­di­vid­ual with land in­ter­ests had ob­jected to the tur­bines, the “nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment” is ev­ery­one’s in­ter­est.

He mem­o­rably pro­nounced: “The osprey has no means of pro­tect­ing it­self. If its in­ter­ests are to be pro­tected, some­one needs speak on its be­half”.

Prest­wick’s Golf Club’s mem­bers are scat­tered across the county, the coun­try and the world.

Not a sin­gle one of them has in­di­vid­ual land in­ter­ests af­fected by the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment.

But the 1851 Tom Mor­ris de­signed links - its fair­ways, dunes, greens, unique lo­ca­tion, back­cloth, tra­di­tions and his­tory - can­not pro­tect it­self.

In the spirit of Lord Hope’s rul­ing, its mem­bers are “speak­ing on its be­half”.

And I say good luck to them.

As I also said, their chances on pa­per are slim.

But if it hits the Court of Ses­sion, and the man in the big seat has a Royal and An­cient tie un­der his robe – or bits of Muir­field on the golf shoes in the boot of his Jag - well . . . you just never know!

Prest­wick’s mem­bers are no fools ei­ther – they hope their le­gal move will get ev­ery­one back around the ta­ble for com­plete re­think on the scale of Mc­Carthy and Stone’s plans.

The builder will no doubt deny any ad­verse re­flec­tion on Prest­wick – but you can bet the prox­im­ity of the his­toric links will be in the first para­graph in any of their sales brochures!

Mc­Carthy and Stone made a £ 96 mil­lion profit in 2018.

Their aver­age UK apart­ment price is al­most £ 300,000 - and they’re plan­ning 69 of them at Prest­wick . . . that’s £ 20.7 mil­lion.

With those num­bers at stake – Mc­Carthy and Stone will be putting all kinds of pres­sure on South Ayr­shire Coun­cil not to cave in.

Prest­wick Golf Club doesn’t have a prob­lem with the site be­ing de­vel­oped – but rightly ask that any de­vel­op­ment be ap­pro­pri­ate in de­sign and scale to its noble and his­toric sur­round­ings. And that’s some­thing Mc­Carthy and Stone can eas­ily af­ford.

Prest­wick Golf Club is a leg­endary place for win­ners.

And there will be leg­endary amounts of Kum­mel quaffed in the club­house if they win this one!

They’re plan­ning 69 of them at Prest­wick . . . that’s £ 20.7 mil­lion

Bob ShieldsA WEEKLY DOSE OF WIT AND WITH­ER­ING COM­MENT ON IS­SUES AND FACES HIT­TING THE NEWS ...

Plans Jim Ron­ney, left, looks at the plans with Mc­Carthy boss Ross Ste­wart

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