Essex’s oldest driving range sold for housing development
The oldest driving range in Essex is set to close after planning permission was given by the local council to convert the site for private housing.
Woodham Mortimer Golf Range in Essex first opened in 1967 and is believed to the oldest standalone practice facility in the county. The site boasts a 9-hole pitch and putt course and a floodlit driving range boasting 23 hitting bays, 15 of which were covered. Other golf facilities include a practice bunker and an all-weather putting green.
The closure comes following the owner’s decision to retire, as well as a consequence of dwindling income. A previous application to demolish the golf range and replace it with 25 properties was refused by the Maldon District Council in 2021, but it has now given ahead with the housing scheme on appeal, even though the council’s chief planning officer had recommended refusal on the grounds of a loss of a community facility and the encroachment of urban sprawl on the surrounding countryside. The new plans are for up to 18 new houses with part of the site retained as a public open space.
Planning agent Antony O’Toole told Maldon planning committee officers that the viability of the business was dwindling amid rising costs and that its current use was detrimental for its neighbours, while councillor Mark Durham, who also supported the housing project, said: “This is a very old driving range and it fundamentally is just too short, so that is why golf balls are going over the existing fence. I’m afraid the times have caught up with this as a viable driving range.”