DEMOLITION teams have flattened a former bowling clubhouse in Dartmouth Park as the future of land at the centre of a planning saga remains in doubt.
Bulldozers moved in at Mansfield Bowling Club amid moves by the site’s owners to change the housing scheme lined up for the land. Developer Generator wants to double the number of two-bedroom homes planned from four to eight, and cut back on the number of four-bedroom houses to be built under a 24-home proposal for the site in Croftdown Road, which is on the market for almost £7 million.
According to Generator’s change of plans – details of which have been filed at the Town Hall – a different layout could spark new interest in the search for a buyer to take on the project.
“Since the original approval, Generator has marketed the site to prospective developers. It has become clear there is little appetite for the sale of the four four-bedroom units,” says the paperwork.
One potential buyer is community housing group CoHo, which has drawn up plans for a community-owned, not-for-profit scheme offering homes for older people at the bowling club site. The group first designed a proposal in 2015, which would have left 80 per cent of the land as an open space for sport. Coho director Stephen Hill told the New Journal: “While the developer has now received planning permission, they are no longer interested in building out the development, and are trying to sell off just the southern section to someone who is.”
He added: “Now is the time for us all to try and make sure the whole site becomes community-owned. We would like to work with neighbours and other interested parties to come up with a new community plan that will help fulfil outdoor recreational use of the site.”
Mansfield Bowling Club, faced with falling membership, sold half the land in 2014. The club says it has no current plans for the part of the site it still owns, which includes the former outdoor green and Kenlyn Tennis Club.
Director Adrian Pruss said: “The land isn’t worth much – who would want to buy it? You wouldn’t get planning permission to do anything with it and we are lumbered with maintaining it.” Under Generator’s current permission, this space is earmarked for a small park and tennis courts.
Mr Pruss added: “We reckon maintaining it could cost us £50,000 a year.”
Meanwhile, the club’s directors say rumours that members have enjoyed a large windfall from the closure of the club are unfounded.
“No one is going on Caribbean holidays,” said Mr Pruss. “Our members have lost a well-established bowling club. In fact, the amount of time we have spent on this over the years has actually cost us. The years spent fighting the council to obtain planning permission denuded funds available to us and we had to take out very substantial loans to keep the property open and pay all necessary bills.”