Since 2001 there have been a succession of planning applications for improvements to the public golf courses situated in the north-east corner of the Park. Access to the courses is currently obtained via the Park near Roehampton Gate. On 7 December 2011 Richmond Borough Council granted planning permission for a scheme which involves the rationalisation of existing buildings on site into a single building in the far south-east of the site.

The clubhouse building will comprise a steel framed structure with a full height glazed elevation and larch cladding. The ancillary supporting facilities for the users of the golf course will include a coffee shop/cafe, changing facilities, administrative and professional shop arranged on the ground floor. Once this new clubhouse close to Chohole Gate is complete, the old and dilapidated clubhouse close to Roehampton Gate will be demolished.

The roof of the clubhouse will comprise extensive acid grassland which sweeps from the ground and rises up to 7.6m. The green roof will reflect and extend the acid grassland habitat of the golf course and park that contribute to the adjacent SSSI status.

The proposals also include the following:

• a new, 4 hole, academy course on an area of underused land immediately to the north of the derelict nursery site;
• a new car park, accessed from Chohole Gate with both permanent and overspill areas, comprising 164 spaces, including accessible parking spaces;
• a new non-floodlit driving range and 20 covered bays which will extend over the existing derelict plant nursery site;
• 20 cycle parking spaces for staff and visitors;
• a number of minor alterations and adjustments to the existing Duke’s and Prince’s
• the demolition of the existing golf course clubhouse, driving range, polytunnels and boiler house;
• associated landscaping work including creation of a new pond to Richmond Park
frontage of the clubhouse, enhancements to the existing ponds and buffer zones to the existing water courses;
• breaking up of hardstanding in respect of the former plant nursery and ancillary roads; and
• installation of a ground source heat pump and photovoltaic panels to ensure the new development reduces the CO2 output by 20%.

The site will be accessed by vehicles and pedestrians via Chohole Gate from Norstead Place and therefore the access close to Roehampton Gate will be closed for public use. Waiting bays will also be provided at Chohole Gate. Visiting cars and mini-buses will access via Chohole Gate and leave via Chohole Gate, using the one-way system around the development. Visiting mini-buses to the academy course will access and leave via Chohole Gate and will use the existing access road to reach the turning head by the academy course.

Service vehicles, coaches and refuse lorries will also access the site via Chohole Gate but will leave via Roehampton gate, creating a one-way system. This is partly due to the fact that they cannot turn within the area around the new golfclub and is in accordance with the Royal Parks strategy.

Light spillage is always a concern in relation to developments close to the Park, and in this case minimal lighting is proposed; it comprises recessed downlights mounted in the canopies over the rear and front sections of the golfclub and in the decking areas to the rear (26w each). The car parks, driving range and pathways will not be illuminated. The new driving range is not to be floodlit.

The Friends, which took part in the public consultation exercise back in May 2010, broadly welcomes the proposals, which will result in substantial improvements to the existing clubhouse area adjacent to the Roehampton Gate car park. It is clear that considerable care has been taken with the design of, for instance, the grassed roof to the new building and the whole approach to lighting.

The application documents can be viewed on the LBRuT website.