Reaseheath replace golf course with training facilities

Lynne Lomaxin Industry News

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Reaseheath College is to close its nine hole golf course and use some of the site to build cutting edge sports turf, horticulture and environmental training facilities.

The Cheshire college, which has a national reputation for the excellence of its turf care training, has used the golf course to train students for over two decades.

It also provides a leisure facility for members of the public.

However, while Reaseheath continues to meet the demand for quality training in golf course maintenance and management, the majority of students are now employed in the industry and gain their practical skills in the workplace under the work based diploma scheme.

The qualification is delivered to answer the requirements of industry, with the students attending college during the quieter season of October to March for three days each month.

Consequently the golf course is now used very little for training and it has been decided to develop an £8m national centre for Horticultural Production, Environmental Management and Conservation, and Renewable Energy on the site.

Capital funding has been awarded by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills to develop this national centre, particularly as it aligns with the recently announced agri-tech strategy.

To answer increasing demand for its sports performance courses, the college will also use the opportunity to build a new sport centre which will be available for community and educational use.

It will reconstruct its existing turf based sports pitches and build new 3G and multi-use artificial sports areas. Elements of the golf course will be retained for teaching purposes.

Space release by the relocation of the horticulture department will allow the college to build a further halls of residence to accommodate an additional 200 students on campus.

Breaking the news to members of Reaseheath Golf Club, Reaseheach Principal Meredydd David explained that the college was under pressure to invest in specialist technical and educational facilities to ensure it continued to deliver outstanding training.

The College's mission is very much aligned with the Government educational and agricultural strategies and it needed to respond to the increased demand for skilled people to enter the agricultural and rural based industries especially in relation to food production and land management.

Expansion of the college campus was restricted and, following considerable discussion with master planners and local authority planning officers, it had become apparent that the only location for the new horticultural centre was on the golf course.

With great regret, there was no other option than to close the golf course and its club from March 2014.Steve Roach, Head of Department for Horticulture, said:"The golf course has been part of the college for 26 years and is currently maintained in excellent condition by the green keeping team.

However, our primary focus is the learners who come to Reaseheath to begin their chosen careers.

"The changing requirements of education provision has necessitated a re-orientation of available resources.While the loss of the golf course is sad, by re-using the site we can reinvest in up to date sports turf technologies and facilities.

These exciting new facilities will serve all of the college's students and an even wider base of the local community well into the future.

"They will also provide future Reaseheath sports turf students with a greater range of practical facilities upon which to hone their skills and test their knowledge."

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