Campaign launched to save Blackpool's Stanley Park golf course from development
'Once it's gone, it's gone' was the warning from campaigners as they launched a battle to save Blackpool's historic Stanley Park golf course from development.
Opponents to the controversial £45m scheme to bring an adventure zone and 250 holiday lodges to the land on East Park Drive packed into the course clubhouse to voice their anger at a public meeting.
Speakers used words including 'tragedy'and 'vandalise' to describe the proposals by Blackpool Council to lease the land to property company Holmes Investment Properties (HIP).
HIP was announced last week as the council's preferred bidder following a tendering process for an operator for the course.
HIP, in partnership with leisure entrepreneur David Lloyd, proposes to reduce the size of the course from 18 to nine holes and build the UK's first Adrenalin World along with 250 holiday lodges.
Rival bids on behalf of the Park Golf Club, Blackpool Zoo and Blackpool Victoria Hospital were rejected.
The public meeting was organised by the golf club which wants to retain and develop the course which opened in 1925.
Almost 8,000 people have now signed a petition to save the course, including 1,551 with a verified Blackpool postcode which it is hoped is enough to force a full council meeting to discuss the plans.
Club committee member David Parker told the meeting: "We are six years away from our centenary and it would be an absolute tragedy to lose this part of the town's heritage.
"What the council is proposing is just simply wrong and we must do everything we can to prevent it.
"This represents a cynical, political act and there is no mandate to vandalise this land."
Christine Parker said comments from people who had signed the petition showed residents did not want the attraction.
She said: "Residents across the Fylde don't want the land to be developed because they need open, green space for recreation. It is crucial for health and wellbeing."
The meeting marked the formation of the Blackpool Green Open Spaces Campaign calling for the land, which is part of the Stanley Park Conservation Area, to be protected as part of the Stanley Park and Salisbury Woodland area of the town.
In a previous statement council cabinet member Coun Mark Smith said the investment would create jobs, boost the economy and "be hugely popular with both residents and visitors."
The course was designed by Alister MacKenzie who laid out more than 50 golf courses including Augusta which is home to the US Masters.