PLANS to list Bradford on Avon’s old golf course as an asset of community value has sparked a furious row between political groups on the town council.

Golf course owner, John Hussey, of Westbury, is said to value the land at £2.2 million and would like to sell it for housing development.

Campaigners seeking to protect it as a green space say if they list it as an asset of community value, the purchase price may be more affordable for locals who want to raise funds to buy it.

Ideal Bradford accused the ruling Liberal Democrat group and mayor, Cllr Sarah Gibson, of “refusing” their request that the town council apply for course to be listed.

In a statement, they added: "In the absence of any action from the Town Council, we’ve been keen to protect the old golf course green space by getting Wiltshire Council to register it as an Asset of Community Value. Cllr Gibson refused our request to do so, for a variety of reasons that seemed designed to delay this action.

"We see no good reason not to take a first practical step to protect the site from development, so we’re seeking to have it registered in the meantime as an Asset of Community Value immediately and not just wait until Wiltshire Council designate it for housing and/or assign its role in the green-blue infrastructure strategy currently subject to consultation.

"We have submitted an application for this with 21 signatories, all from the Bradford on Avon electoral roll. Climate Friendly Bradford on Avon supports our action to save this green space."

The Lib Dems said: “This is untrue. Ideal Bradford councillors submitted a motion for the last full council on the day before the agenda was due to be issued with only an application form which listed various local organisations in support.

"Not all of these organisations had been consulted with before being listed on the form - these included the Preservation Trust and the community group set up to prevent building on the golf course.When asked, both expressed reservations about the timing of this action."

“In view of the failure to consult organisations named on the form, Cllr Sarah Gibson suggested the proposal come instead to the town development committee meeting on September 21 to allow time for supporting information to be provided, as can be seen on the live stream of the meeting.”

Cllr Alison Potter, who was involved in setting up the group in 2019 seeking to protect the site as green space, said: “The guidance on these types of applications clearly states the owner should be approached prior to any submission to ascertain their intentions to sell and the value they attach to the asset.

“When we approached the owner three years ago his price was upwards of £2.2 million. It is unrealistic to suggest this amount could be raised by the community in six months, as required if listed.”

“The best way to protect the space is through the Local Plan, which is why we leafleted residents for them to object to its inclusion as a site for development.”

Cllr Gibson said “This application is being misleadingly presented as a simple, positive, risk-free option with the suggestion being made that the Lib Dem group on the town council is standing in the way of a simple measure to protect the golf course – the truth is more complex.

“This type of application would be more useful once the on-going blue green infrastructure strategy confirms the site’s inclusion as a green space.

“This would lower the value as development land and make possible purchase by the community more viable. The implications of liability for the toxic waste also need to be clarified before anyone takes on this responsibility.”