WAR is looming at Churston as the local golf club forges ahead with its overall redevelopment plan.
Churston Golf Club has now revealed it is to go to a planning appeal over its bid to move its clubhouse and subsequently build new homes.
The battle lines between the club and residents opposed to the plans, led by protest group RAGS, are now clearly drawn with a planning inspector likely to decide the issue in March next year.
The golf club and housing partner Bloor Homes will effectively combine all remaining elements of the scheme into one application and let the inspector decide. The inspector's decision should bring an end to the long-running planning dispute between the club and residents who oppose the scheme on environmental grounds.
The club's most recent planning application was to relocate three of its holes on farmland and was due to be discussed at a planning meeting this week.
But the application was withdrawn at the last minute, with the club claiming RAGS had engaged in an 'orchestrated campaign' to disrupt the process by submitting a 'barrage' of material to the committee.
An email was sent to all members by Tim Lake, chairman Churston Golf Club Ltd, saying: "It would appear the timing of this information has been orchestrated to cause maximum disruption just a few days ahead of the committee meeting. Of course the volume of the information makes it almost impossible for the officers and the applicant to consider and respond to it in detail before the committee (even if the objections are largely recycled)."
It adds: "Bloor Homes has therefore decided the applications which will enhance the facilities at the golf club have gone as far as they constructively can through the council.
"Having withdrawn this planning application, Bloor Homes will instead progress the proposal by appealing the previous planning application."
Geoff Melbourne, chairman of RAGS, said: "Six months ago we said it was their right to appeal and we feel confident in our case if it goes to appeal. We are ready for it."
He said RAGS had put together a document listing its objections to the planning officers' report, but denied this amounted to a bombardment of information.
If the planning appeal is successful it will allow Bloor Homes to start work on plans to build 132 properties, including 90 new homes. The area is currently occupied by first and 18th holes and the clubhouse. That part of the scheme was approved in December last year and is seen as vital for Torbay to meet its housing requirements.
But for that to happen the other parts of the scheme need to fall into place and so far the club has not been able to get approval to relocate its clubhouse. The application to build three new holes on farmland — to replace those lost — was recommended for approval before being withdrawn despite it being a departure from the Local Plan.