What future for golf courses?

The future of the city’s Entry Hill and Approach golf courses may soon be settled.

Two reports going before Bath & North East Somerset Council’s cabinet on February 11 recommend that members agree to appoint two separate companies who have bid to run each site.

This follows an open procurement exercise started by the council in August 2020 to find a new operator or operators to run the Entry Hill and Approach sites for community and sporting provision and attract more residents to enjoy outdoor exercise.

Entry Hill golf course has experienced a continued decline in visitors over more than a decade and, together with the Approach, operates at a significant loss to the council of £100,000 per year in total. A public consultation was carried out between December 2019 and March 2020 to find out how residents wanted to shape the site for the future.

The reports on both procurement exercises detail that proposals by both recommended bidders have met the council’s key priorities for future use of the sites. These include contributing to the climate and ecological emergency goals; getting more people more active; ensuring there is leisure provision for all members of the community to engage with; to support health and wellbeing and to bring communities together.

These priorities are in line with Sport England’s 10-year strategy, which helps organisations who deliver sporting provision to recover from the challenges posed by Covid-19 and tackle inequalities in people accessing sport. The strategy encourages the use of sport and leisure to make places better for people to live in and providing positive experiences for children and young people.

Five companies submitted final tenders for Entry Hill and one company submitted a final tender for the Approach. More than five golf operators were approached by the council during the tender process for the Approach but no final bids were made.

Due to commercial sensitivities and in line with the tender procedure, details of bidders and their proposals are not made public until contracts have been awarded. At this stage of the procurement process, Cabinet has the option of appointing the highest scoring bidder or choosing not to proceed with the process. 

Councillor Paul Crossley, cabinet member for Community Services, said: “We want to see Entry Hill and the Approach become places where our communities can become more active, more often and offer wider provision to support people’s health and wellbeing. Especially in the wake of the pandemic, it’s our responsibility to make sure sport and leisure provision in Bath and North East Somerset meets the needs of residents now and in the future.

“Any new operator for either site needs to create places that make it easier for people to be active and connect communities, as well as support our climate and ecological emergency goals. We will consider these preferred bidders carefully against these criteria when making our decisions.”

The reports going before Cabinet on February 11 can be viewed at https://democracy.bathnes.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=122&MId=5531

The Sport England Strategy Uniting Through Movement can be found at https://www.sportengland.org/why-were-here/uniting-the-movement

Find out more about leisure provision in B&NES at https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/sport-leisure-and-parks/sport-activities-and-events/leisure-centres-and-sport-facilities