On 14/06/05 Jack Barker Golf submitted plans for 'Course Improvements' at Basildon Golf Course. The illustration below is based on those plans and gives an impression of the affected areas which have been hand-coloured in red for clarity. Since this plan was drawn up the proposed construction of the driving range (horseshoe shaped, bottom left)and adjacent work has been called Phase 1 but the shape and dimensions of the driving range have been changed - approved plans show that the side of the driving range closest to houses in Curlew Crescent and Ravensdale to be 6 metres (20 feet) above the existing ground level. We do not know if there have been changes to what was planned for the rest of the course.


These initial plans indicated that inert landfill up to 3 metres (10 feet) high/deep and up to 24 metres wide would be used to 'improve' the course at the areas marked in red. In addition, where the bunds are on the perimeter of the course, it is proposed that a ditch one metre deep and two metres wide should be on the outside of the bund.

On 2nd August 2005, Clive Simpson, Development Control Manager for Basildon District Council, wrote to Ron Maydon of Jack Barker's Golf Company about the the plans that they had submitted: 'I can confirm that in principle I have no objection to the proposed mounding and engineering works shown on the plan Ref JB/MSE.2462-1. (the above plan). I consider that if undertaken in the same way as the improvements to the Wavendon and Delapre Courses they will serve to enhance the visual appearance of the course and help to alleviate the security concerns that you have raised in relation to the Basildon course.'
Later in the same letter Mr Simpson wrote ' The contents of this letter represent my professional opinion of the proposals but are given without prejudice and cannot guarantee an approval of any subsequent planning application which will have to be determined by the Council's Development Control Committee.'

On the above plan the Perimeter Landscape Mounds are shown as being 3 metres (10 feet) high and 24 metres wide. However, in September 2007 Planning permission was given for the north side of the Driving Range to be 6 metres (20 feet) high, and for the infill to extend at roughly the same height/depth until it reaches the natural contours of the rising hills some 200 metres to the south. This first phase of the work involves 120,000 cubic metres of inert landfill and concerns only the Driving Range to the left of the plan (at 9 o'clock!).
We have seen one document which indicated that the total amount of landfill to be imported is 312,000 cubic metres, but we do not know if that is current.

The numbers on the plan indicate each of the 18 fairways. In looking at the following photographs, readers may wish to form their views as to whether mounding would improve the visual appearance of the course and/or improve security. Those who have read about events at Delapre will know that security was given as the reason for much of the work there.


This is the most northerly point of the Golf Course is where it meets Clayhill Road (fairways 3 and 4). In these plans it is proposed that a large U-shaped mound should be formed around the entire end of the course. This could have a significant impact on adjacent properties in Kingfishers, Falcon Way and Clayhill Road. We know of no security issues involving either golfers or passing pedestrians. However, were a mound to obscure the view from the road onto the golf course, the experience from Delapre is that walkers using the public footpath might feel less secure. Similarly, the golf course might actually start to attract those up to no good.

 
This is the eastern end of Fairway 6 where the golf course ends and the Nature Reserve begins. The two are separated along the whole of the eastern side of the Golf Course by a 7 foot high metal fence in excellent condition.(The metal fencing runs behind the trees beyond the green at the end of this fairway). In spite of the high metal fencing, mounding is apparently needed too.
 

Plans suggest that these trees at the eastern end of fairway 12 will be cut down too.
 

Between the 12th green and the 13th tee there is a footpath, and to the south of the footpath there is an open field with uncut grass. Plans indicate that this area is to be filled by two large mounds created from building waste with a footpath running between them. The following view is taken from the field looking east towards the 13th fairway; the footpath is to the left while the large mounds would be either side of the footpath.

 
Close to the 13th tee there is an official gap in the fencing between the golf course and the nature reserve. Plans show that a continuous mound is planned for the golf course side, and that no provision for using the pathway through the fence appears to have been made.


 
The 7 foot high fencing which divides the golf course from the Nature Reserve to the East of the Golf Course can be clearly seen in the above photograph. The fencing is in good condition and on the nature reserve side of the fencing there are trees and bushes as well. Yet 'mounding' is required on the golf course side. The following phtographs show the extent of the existing fencing and of the perimeter bunding if plans go ahead.





The following view is of the field with uncut grass described earlier; the picture is taken from the 13th fairway looking west. The field does not form part of the playing area of the golf course and the long grass means that it has been a haven for wildlife and is of ecological interest. Yet, as mentioned earlier, there are plans to create two large mounds using building waste.


 

The next photograph is looks south above the 13th green of the golf course. It can be seen that the green is on the side of a steep hill; there are tremendous views across the Thames from this part of the course, while the steep tree-covered slopes mean that there are no obvious security issues. Yet mounding 3 metres (10feet) high that will obscure these views is planned for the whole of the south side of the Golf Course. What impact will this mounding have on the houses below in roads such as The Vale, Hillcrest View and Mountview Close? It is likely that they will be affected by dust and particulates, by changes in the flow of water draining from the area, and possibly a combination of the two.




The next picture is of another south-facing view, this time of the tees of the 15th fairway. Mounding is apparently needed here behind the tees - in spite of the dense trees and bushes and the very steep slopes.




A view from the north end of the 15th fairway, again looking south. Plans suggest that all the trees and bushes in view will be replaced by mounding.

The next picture shows is taken on the 16th fairway close to the ruins of Vange Hall, looking west. Plans indicate that the small line of trees coming onto the golf course on the left hand side will remain - together with some wire netting they screen the golfers driving off on the 17th fairway. However, plans suggest that all the other trees on the left hand side of the picture as far as the eye (over a kilometre) will be replaced by mounding; they are on the north side of the public footpath which runs along the south side of the golf course. Those who have used the footpath will know that it is narrow and that people have to walk in single file.


For the main part the golf course side of the footpath running on the south side of the golf course from the ruins of Vange Hall to Nethermayne has fencing and thick bushes and trees. There are only a few short sections where a combination of the fencing being missing and an absence of trees and bushes makes it is easy to get onto the golf course; however, at these points there are no footpaths or other evidence of misuse. Three pictures of the footpath follow.






The first is typical of the footpath in general with both fence and dense undergrowth behind it (in this east-facing view the golf course is behind the fencing on the left). The second shows a section where the fencing is in good condition but there are few trees or bushes behind it (the golf course is on the right). In the third picture the fencing is missing but it would be impossible to get through the dense trees and bushes onto the Golf course (the Golf Course is on the left).


Finally, trees at risk. A recent legal ruling is that all trees can be the subject of preservation orders irrespective of their size. This menas that saplings and small hawthorn and other tres that form heddgrows could be the subject of preservation orders. Unfortunately, the organisisation that is responsible for granting tree preservation orders on the golf course is Basildon District Council, and they are unlike to make such orders in the light of the developers plans. We estimate that thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of trees will be destroyed if this development goes ahead, ranging from small hawthorns in hedgerows to the much larger trees shown below.