PLANS to develop a sustainable irrigation system and improve driving range facilities at Hockley Golf Club have received a mix of support and concerns.

The application submitted to South Downs National Park includes an irrigation system with a water storage pond that could hold up to 7,000 cubic metres and remove the need to use mains water to preserve the course.

The proposed development is in response to the Environment Agency identifying the area as being under “serious water stress”.

The golf club, on the edge of the South Downs along the B335, also hopes to enhance its driving range with new target greens, an upgraded range building and a “high quality” short game area.

Hampshire Chronicle: Site locationSite location (Image: Hockley Golf Club)

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The application reads: “This would enable the club to offer a practice and teaching facility unique to the local area. In strengthening the quality of facilities available for members and visitors this would assist in maintaining existing membership levels and attracting and retaining new members.”

Despite support from more than 30 people who have praised the sustainability of the project, Twyford Parish Council clerk J.P. Matthews, outlined a series of issues. The objection read: “There will be significant harm to the landscape for a prolonged period.

“The travel route of vehicles means many will travel through the village and represents an unacceptable increase, somewhere in the region of 90 per cent, in OGV2, type vehicles continuous over the three years of the work.

“The temporary access and frontage onto the B3335 can be improved and better mitigate the impact on the harm to the landscape.

“The archaeological report underplays some elements of historic importance relating to the old access to the common.

“The parish council provides this information as an interim representation and will provide a fuller response in due course.”

Hampshire Chronicle: Hockley Golf ClubHockley Golf Club (Image: Hockley Golf Club)

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One long-term golf club member, who wanted to remain anonymous, of Segars Lane, said: “I support the club's proposal in principle to create a water capture system to reduce the need to draw upon the underground aquifer and mains water supply, however, I have a few serious concerns.

“The first is whether this type of water capture system has been demonstrated to work efficiently in other parts of the UK. The second is the need to adequately protect two areas of beech trees during the construction phase especially the large beeches surrounding the current reservoir. These are a major feature of the landscape and it would be a tragedy if these were removed or damaged.

“My final concern is the number of heavy trucks that will be using the B3335 during the three-year construction phase. It is essential that more consideration is given to creating an efficient traffic plan to avoid adversely affecting the villages of Colden Common and Twyford together with formal measures put in place to ensure this is followed.”

If approved, the work will be undertaken in phases, to keep the driving range open as long as possible, before a temporary facility is set up for members while the entire range is closed.