The Centurion Golf Centre
North Tyneside Council has granted planning consent in a unanimous vote to HG&L Newcastle Ltd for the £13m Wallsend Golf Centre development at Centurion Park.
The innovative leisure facility is designed to deliver golf to a younger and more diverse market. It combines a full length golf range with a radical redesign of the golf course, which will enable 6, 12 and 18 hole rounds and a substantial investment in comprehensive drainage and other measures, including two water features and new planting to enhance biodiversity.
At the heart of the facility will be the £13m golf centre, combining the facilities of a traditional driving range with state-of-the-art virtual reality digital technology. The advanced digital technology tracking equipment transposes players’ shots onto digital screens, which can show a number of virtual reality games or a selection of world-renowned golf courses. The technology enables complete novices to learn to play golf, having fun playing different games whilst experienced players can practise, enjoying playing different courses in a virtual reality mode, or be coached by the centre’s academy.
The two storey building has been designed by Newcastle-based Nicholson Nairn Architects and is to be built by Robertson Construction, relying almost entirely upon a local supply chain of sub-contractors. It will have 54 well-furbished golf bays complete with first class, brand golf clubs and an automated golf ball dispense system fronting the driving range at ground floor and first floor levels. The main building to the rear of the bays will contain a sports bar and restaurant, golf pro-shop, golf academy, kitchens, function/meeting rooms and associated offices. The building will also provide a new clubhouse for the Wallsend Golf Club, with locker rooms and changing facilities linking directly with the course. There will be off-street parking facilities, accessed from the adjacent West Street.
The centre will be home to a new PGA Golf Academy for all golfers, but aimed particularly at local young people, who may not otherwise have been able to access the game. Led by one of the finest golf professionals in the North, a team of coaches will support all golfers from entry level to those seeking a career in golf and performing on the professional circuits. The coaches will seek out young golfers who have the potential and natural talents to develop into serious players. It will also offer the possibility of joining the Academy’s scholarship programme, with a strong emphasis on inspiring girls and women to take up golf.
Phil Harrison, Director of HG&L Newcastle Ltd, commented, “We’re obviously delighted to have planning consent for what we believe will be the finest leisure facility of its kind in the country. In addition to the new range, we have also completely redesigned the golf course in line with the latest PGA thinking to reverse the decline of traditional golf clubs by attracting new members to new forms of the game.
“Golf is struggling with declining club memberships and many clubs and courses, particularly municipal ones like Wallsend, are fighting to just survive. The reasons for this decline are primarily cost of membership and the time required for a full round of 18 holes – varying between 4 and 5 hours depending on ability. The perception of elitism, lack of family activities and old fashioned attitudes have been contributing factors to the reduction in numbers of people who were willing to join a golf club, especially among younger players.
“Our model, combining a state-of-the-art driving range with the redesigned course, will welcome a whole new range of players. Through the golf academy, we are committed to developing the region’s golfers, both young and old.”
Chris Sanderson, Managing Director of STR Enterprises Ltd, who will manage the facility added, “Centurion Park is the perfect site for us to launch the new concept and the end result will be an innovative and professionally designed course with a truly superb facility in the golf centre, providing some 100 jobs. It will also create a £4m per year local supply chain when fully operational, in addition to the 60 jobs created by the construction period.
“The development not only secures the long term future of golf at Centurion Park, but will also become a major visitor attraction in its own right, drawing both golfers wanting year round facilities and families and young people new to the game. Its use as a corporate hospitality and community venue brings further benefit to the area.
“We’re very grateful to our team of professional advisers and Robertson Construction, who have so strongly supported the project. We now look forward to delivering a great new venue for the benefit of golfers and the wider community in North Tyneside and beyond.”