Delapre Golf Course in Northampton is another Golf Course on which Jack Barker Golf has used landfill to make 'improvements'.

Attention was drawn to Jack Barker Golf's 'improvements' at Delapre Golf Course, Northamptonshire, when we first wrote to Basildon District Council's Chief Executive: see the earlier correspondence section on this website which contained the following link:

We have since been in touch with several of the residents there and are most grateful for the interest and support that they have given.

In an interview on BBC Radio Essex ( Monday 15th October 2007) , Paul Varnsverry, a local councillor in Northampton, said that there were still problems at the site because two large stagnant ponds had formed (earlier last year, the local newspaper reported that the area covered by one of these ponds was 5,000 square metres. Mr Varsverry also said that the Council were considering action against Jack Barker Golf in respect of breaches of regulations. A transcript of that interview is available.

In particular, Mr Varnsverry:
- complained about the lack of local consultation
- said that the amount of landfill to be imported was reduced so that Northamptonshire County Council did not need to be involved.

In reply to subsequent enquiries from FoBGC, Mr Varnsferry has written thus:

1. Environment Impact Study

No such exercise was completed. It was subsequently suggested to us that the local authority has the prerogative whether or not to conduct and Environment Impact Study. I believe this was, however, at odds with the advice provided to us by Phil Shiner (Environmental Law Foundation's barrister), who I understand said it must always be conducted.

2. Thresholds

The original proposal at Delapre was for 115,000 cubic metres of infill material to be deposited. An officer of Northamptonshire County Council indicated he was disinclined to support the proposal, however, so it was suddenly reduced by the applicant (Jack Barker's Golf Company) to 88,000 cubic metres, which took it out of the County Council's hands and left Northampton Borough Council in charge.

It is perhaps worthwhile noting that the entire process of what is deposited as infill material, and how much of it there is seems to be based entirely on trust, with the contractor 'self-certifying' what and how much. As I have reported before, we managed to get a very small sample area tested by the Environment Agency, and unsuitable material was found (despite the contractor's oath to the contrary, with regard to their quality assurance procedures). We were never able to get other, far more extensive areas of bunding (where residents allege tyres, tarmac and metal lie buried) similarly checked, because neither the previous administration or the golf company were prepared to grant access.

When you are able to visit Northampton again, and get to see the extent of the Delapre works, it will be interesting to gain your views on whether you think it looks like 'just' 88k cubic mteres, or whether you think there might be more. I will also take you to the place where it is very easy to trip over pieces of metal which are sticking out of the ground!

Another local resident made contact with us through this website. She wrote:

'Far Cotton Residents Ass. said you are protesting about bunding at your golf club. Re. Delapre Abbey/Park in Northampton. The 'bunding' put in place by Jack Barker 18 months ago has completely destroyed an historic site with thousands of tons of landfill being dumped on our park plus huge lorries thundering across the park all day, which our council refused to stop despite huge protests by local people. They contravened the planning agreements left right and centre (admitted by our council) and took out ancient hedges and trees, destroyed archaeological sites and altered the water course in the park. We now have a lake in the park that wasn't there before. Cut off public access to the park, dumped landfill unmonitored. The bunds are much higher and wider than on the plans and he has gained some of the park by moving the boundaries. Ditches have been dug which are full of water and if you fell in would never get out. I could go on and on. They failed to do an environmental impact study to start with which is against the law but Mr Barker knows all the loopholes. Our park and surrounding area has been destroyed and there is nothing we can do. Have loads of photo's if you want them plus letters sent to the local paper who played a big part in our protest. The very best of luck as Jack Barker has done this up and down the country and made a fortune, he certainly made a lot of money dumping on our park. Please do not hesitate to contact me further.'

I thanked her for her comments and told her something of what we have been doing in Basildon, adding that Ron Maydon of Jack Barker Golf had been quoted in our local newspaper as saying 'We have not had one case of contamination or complaints at any of our courses'. The same person then wrote again:

I am not suprised Mr. Barker (Maydon) didn't mention what has happened in Northampton; the protest marches the phone calls and letters to the golf club plus a representation and visit by Mr. Brian Binley, our MP for Northampton South, to the golf club. Protesters being on the local news and in the newspapers, the march on our town hall where they had to convene to the main hall as there were so many protesters, the countless council meetings many of us attended, the blockade by a protester who blocked the way with her car to stop the lorries ripping up our park (this was front page in the local Chronicle and Echo) all protests falling on deaf ears. I think Mr. Barker has a very poor memory.

The reason for the bunds was supposedly to stop cars and motor bikes going onto the green at the golf course. The golf club is situated in one corner of Delapre Park which is a huge area and it would be virtually impossible to block off every entry. If you type in Delapre Abbey you will see that it is an historic sight were the battle of Northampton took place in 1460 the Wars of the Roses.

As I said before the bunds are more like huge hills and are so wide that motor bikes ride along the top, it is a great challenge for the bikers now, the police, who have attended many of our meetings, have said you will never stop bikes from entering the park regardless of how many or how high the bunds are. Huge bunds have been placed along an area where cars never entered the park in the first place, but this was an agreement with Mr. Barker and our council that he would put that there free of charge, people have stated at meetings how vulnerable they now feel in the park as now you cannot be seen from the road as before because of how high the bunds are. The Council admitted their mistake and it has been agreed that this would now be removed. Next problem, they have no money to remove it, we did suggested that as the haulage company who dumped the stuff and Mr. Barker who commissioned them to work for him made so much money, perhaps they would like to contribute to its removal!!!!!

We have been told that the bunds around the golf course can't be removed as Mr. Barker has a 40 year lease so he can do as he likes. In 40 years he has to put everything right, ancient hedges, huge trees, ancient kilns, the disruption of wild life can never be put back. One of our number has taken video's and followed the lorries to see were some of the landfill came from, which was a factory in the next town, she is still monitoring the situation and he is still breaking the rules.

Have attached some photo's which might be of interest to you. There are others who know far more about the contravention of planning than I do and will try and get them to contact you.

Note: reference was made to the local newspaper which is the Northampton Chronicle and Echo. Here is a link to the page where the paper's recent articles on bunding are listed

In February 2008 we learned that the ponding covered 5,000 square metres and was up to 4 feet deep in places. We received the following photographs.

Finally, the aerial view on Google Earth at December 2008 is shown below. It is dated 26 June 2005 and shows work in progress on the driving range earthworks in the bottom right hand corner. If you want a clearer view, download Google Earth (it is free) and zzom in on the course/driving range which is to the south of Northampton Town Centre. It is important to remember that permission at Delapre was for a total of 88,000 cubic metres for earthworks on the whole golf course including the driving range.