An independent review of the borough’s Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs) has highlighted concerns with the Coombe Wood Golf Course, that could potentially see the de-designation of the course if improvements aren’t made. However, after contacting the Golf Club, they have immediately confirmed that they are keen to do everything they can to maintain their prized SINC status.
The review of Kingston’s SINCs listed Coombe Wood Golf Club, amongst other sites that were at risk of de-designation, if the required management to maintain the sites didn’t take place.
The main issue seems to be the need to preserve the ‘acid grassland habitat’ which has deteriorated since the last inspection. The report goes on to state that: ‘This will require appropriate management to re-instate the value of the habitat’.
No doubt local residents will take an interest in what is happening at Coombe Wood Golf Club, as in 2019 Kingston Council produced a draft Local Plan that identified the area as suitable for potential future development. The three Conservative Coombe Hill ward councillors opposed the plans and responded to the official consultation.
An obvious concern is that the loss of the classification of the golf course as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, could improve the chances of development on the site at some point in the future. However, we all want to see local nature and wildlife preserved and enhanced anyway.
We are hopeful that when the updated version of the Local Plan proposals is made public (should be soon), Coombe Wood Golf course will no longer be listed for potential future development. However, we remain vigilant going forward.
Local residents are right to be interested and concerned about the findings of the independent review. But we should also be somewhat reassured by the speed and contents of the initial response from the Golf club. They have stated that the board members will be following up the issues raised in the report, that they are definitely keen to maintain the SINC status, and that they will do all they can to achieve it.
Generally, there is strong support for Coombe Wood Golf Club from local residents. We all appreciated it when they previously opened up the course for walkers during the earlier Lockdown. Plans to improve the viability of the club and to improve the fitness/sports offer to local children, students and residents are also positive.
The three Conservative Coombe Hill ward councillors have offered their help to liaise with the relevant Council ecology experts, and we look forward to working with the club going forward.