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York bowlers face green closure
A BOWLING green in York is facing closure re-igniting an eight-year wrangle over plans to redevelop the site.
The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) intends shutting the green at Connaught Court, Fulford , at the end of the bowling season and says it is offering support to help the three clubs which use the green find other facilities.
But John Liley, chairman of York Police Bowls Club, which has almost 50 members and plays in the Tockwith and District League, said it was having great difficulties securing alternative premises and was now in jeopardy.
He claimed the club had tried to reach a compromise, but there had been a “complete lack of flexibility” by the RMBI.
Geoff Rounthwaite, chairman of Fulford Bowling Club, which has a dozen players, all from the local area, said they were unhappy about the closure, which would leave them facing the inconvenience of having to travel to another green elsewhere.
An RMBI spokesman said it was looking at how it might make best use of its assets at Connaught Court as it sought to extend provision of care facilities to accommodate the needs of its increasingly elderly residents.
He said: “Already we have invested more than £2 million in improvements to the existing home and we hope to provide additional facilities, especially to cater for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. We have written to all neighbours outlining potential future developments, including plans for the bowling green.”
He said as the age profile of Connaught Court’s residents had increased, their bowls club had ceased to operate. “The bowling green is now used only by other groups not directly connected with the home, including the police bowls club, as guests. We can’t be expected to keep the facility open simply to accommodate other clubs.”
He said City of York Council had confirmed there was sufficient provision for clubs currently using Connaught Court to relocate to other greens in the city. “As a goodwill gesture, we have told all three clubs that we will provide financial support to help them make the move to other facilities in York.”
Plans for redevelopment since 2004
THE RMBI faced massive opposition when it launched plans in 2004 to redevelop land around Connaught Court, including the green, to build new flats and sheltered homes.
Council planners threw out the scheme in 2007, after officers said a proposed replacement green was inadequate compared to the existing one.
An RMBI appeal was thrown out after a public inquiry in 2008 by an inspector who felt the development would be of significant harm to the character and appearance of the area. It is understood that following a change in legislation, provision of a replacement green may not be necessary with any future application.