£80m golf course gets go-ahead to tee off

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Aberdeenshire councillors have given the go-ahead for an £80m golf course complex at Stonehaven’s Ury Estate - despite concerns over the destruction of historic woodland.

The full council met on Thursday to discuss the plans which sought full planning consent for the Jack Nicklaus golf course and associated housing development.

Head of planning Robert Gray told councillors that the golf course would be good for Stonehaven, but there was concern about the development of the 90 five-bedroom homes which were required to fund the golf course.

Some 44 of the homes sit on the ancient woodland at Slicewell Woods, which dates back to 1750.

Speaking for the developer, Jonathan Milne said that structural work was already under way on the Ury Mansion House and that the golf course would be the centrepiece of the development. He urged councillors to support the application.

Cllr Graeme Clark moved to back the project and highlighted that the developer had already made good progress on restoring the mansion house.

He recognised the impact on Slicewell Woods, but said that of the 160 hectares of ancient woodland on the estate, the proposal would affect 25.5 hectares and significant replanting had already been carried out by the developer.

The motion was supported by Cllr Raymond Christie.

During the detailed debate, Cllr Martin Ford put forward an amendment to support the recommendations of planners to refuse the application on the basis that the ancient woodland could be protected by relocating 
the houses elsewhere on the site.

This was seconded by Cllr Mark Findlater who said that the ancient woodland couldnot be replaced.

The application was supported by 45 votes to 20 with one no-vote.

18 time Major winner Jack Nicklaus, who is designing the 18 hole course said: “On behalf of everyone here at Nicklaus Design, we are delighted with the news of the Council’s approval. We look forward to creating a great golf course for Ury Estate, one that complements and celebrates the history of the region. We hope the golf course will be an enormous source of pride for the community, and provide a golf experience at Ury Estate that will not only enhance tourism and strategic growth, but will absolutely protect and even enhance the existing environment.”

Jonathon Milne, from FM Group said: “The local councillors really stood up and got behind the project. We are thrilled at today’s outcome. It’s great news for us, for the estate, for Stonehaven and for the region’s economy and profile. We are committed to creating something truly special at Ury with the mansion house and golf course at its heart. We are looking forward to getting started and to demonstrating how we will dramatically enhance the area, protecting and improving woodland and wildlife, for everyone, not just golfers to enjoy.”