Sport

Surf’s up, golf’s down

Golf course set to close if £40m surfing facility gets go-ahead, reports James Cracknell

A surfer rides a wave
Plans are being drawn up to create a surfing facility in Enfield called ‘The Wave’ on the site of Lee Valley Golf Course (credit Oliver Sjostrom via Unsplash)

Golfers in the east of the borough are angry that a low-cost golf course would be washed away by proposals to create “a slice of the ocean in Enfield”.

Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) announced four years ago that it planned to open a £40million “surfing destination” at its Lee Valley Leisure Complex in Pickett’s Lock, but has now confirmed that the plans would involve the permanent closure of both Lee Valley Golf Course and Lee Valley Camping and Caravan Park.

Billy Sheridan, a former captain of Leeside Golf Club who still uses the course regularly, said that golfers had initially been told that only nine of the 18 holes would be affected by the plans, but has since learned that the entire course would be forced to close.

Lee Valley is a low-cost golf course and one of the cheapest remaining in the borough after the closure of Whitewebbs Park Golf Course last year. Other courses in the borough typically charge around three or four times as much for an annual membership, while it is also the only course in Enfield east of the A10.

Billy told the Dispatch: “I have playing for 25 years and all my friends play here – what are we supposed to do? It is an essential part of the community.

“Leeside is the cheapest golf club in the area. A friend of mine is a member at Bush Hill Park but it is around £1,800 per year – Leeside is £420 per year.”

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The closure of the camping site would also be a big loss, Billy said. “It is one of the nearest caravan parks to central London. It is important to the area.”

No planning application has yet been submitted for the surfing facility. A web page explains that LVRPA “is working with inland surfing specialists, The Wave, to develop a planning application for a world-class surfing destination”.

It further says: “The £40m project would enhance around 100 acres of land in Lee Valley Regional Park and could make London the first capital city in the world to offer an inland surfing destination […] The Wave London would offer a new purpose-built surfing lake and could feature other elements, such as a high-performance surfing and skateboarding centre, health and rehabilitation, cycle trails, high ropes, and glamping accommodation.”

Asked what the proposal would mean for the golf course and camping site if it went ahead, an LVRPA spokesperson said: “The Wave London carried out a set of first phase public engagement sessions in July, which were well received and are now using the information gained at these to further develop their plans.

“Lee Valley Golf Course and Lee Valley Camping and Caravan Park are on the site of the proposed project and, if the scheme goes ahead, both will close. The site is designated as Green Belt and has been used for leisure since the 1970s.

“The project, which is still at an early stage, would create a slice of the ocean in Enfield, with a new purpose-built surfing lake on the southern end of the golf course, away from the existing lake. It would be the centrepiece of an exciting reinvigoration of land adjacent to the Lee Valley Athletics Centre in Edmonton.

“It is proposed to be a stunning new regional leisure hub, bringing wellbeing, fitness, sport, outdoor activities and the positive health benefits of water and waves, to millions of people, along with many new jobs.”