Bowls Club Closure

A number of clubs are at risk of closure now. Sometimes this is because player numbers have dwindled and the club have made the decision to shut up shop. However, there may be circumstances where a club has enough members to continue, but is under threat from a landowner who wants to develop the bowls green land. If this is the case, then the following advice may be of some use;

Contact the right people

  • The British Crown Green Bowling Association
  • Your local bowls league
  • Your local authority and/or parish/town council - they might be able to offer support
  • You members, and those of other local bowls clubs

Some information which might help

The National Planning Policy Framework is the statutory framework for planning policy in the UK. Local Planning Authorities have to follow this framework when considering planning applications. Section 8 of the NPPF relates to 'Promoting Healthy Communities' and states that;

Existing open space, sports and recreational buildings and land, including playing fields, should not be built on unless:

  • an assessment has been undertaken which has clearly shown the open space, buildings or land to be surplus to requirements; or
  • the loss resulting from the proposed development would be replaced by equivalent or better provision in terms of quantity and quality in a suitable location; or
  • the development is for alternative sports and recreational provision, the needs for which clearly outweigh the loss.

In addition to the above considerations for building on a bowling green site, greens can be listed as Assets of Community Value. Some useful documents and articles are included below, but what this basically means is that the community (i.e. the club) will be given first option to buy the green if the landowner wants to sell it.

The basic gist of the above is that there is support for bowls clubs and arguments can be made that they should be retained, so you do have grounds to fight against forced closure or sale of the land. Whilst I don't have time to support all clubs who are facing closure, if you need additional support or advice on how to organise an objection, please feel free to contact me and I will do my best to help where I can.

Equally, if you are a club that has successfully been listed as an Asset of Community Value, or successfully fought against closure, get in touch and let me know any info that may help others in a similar situation.

The above is intended as helpful advice only and a point in the right direction and has been put together from experience of working as an intern in a local planning department. It is current advice as of 2015 and may not be as relevant over time.