Golf is one of the Country's fastest growing participation sports. It reached a peak of actual and proposed course development in the late 1980s. That expansion was driven by a favourable economic climate, a report by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club which called for 700 new golf courses nationally by the end of this century and the reform of agricultural policy which effectively subsidised the establishment of courses by allowing them to be sited on 'set-aside' land.

In common with much else, the growth in golfing facilities has been somewhat curtailed in the 1990s. As and when economic prospects revive sufficiently, the popularity of the game is likely to lead to a resurgence in demand - accentuated by its particular appeal to the middle-aged and retired, the numbers of which are predicted to increase dramatically during the Plan period (i.e. Lincoln's population aged 40+ will increase by about one third between 1996 and 2011). The Government (PPG 17: "Sport and Recreation"), the Countryside Commission and English Heritage (each from their particular viewpoints), have issued advice on golf course development in response to the 1980s boom. These identify issues of concern for the planning system, such as:

•   the sheer amount of land needed, which can be in the range of 40 to 60 hectares for an 18 hole course;
•   the potential for conflict between course design and present landscape character;
•    the need for adequate access and parking arrangements for what can be a major traffic generator.

Urban fringe locations for courses can be ideal, acting as buffers to development and, in accordance with sustainable development principles, minimising the overall distance people need to travel to them.

The Golf Development Council (now merged with the Sports Council), recommends a rate of provision of 9 holes per 15,000 residents. The following analysis, based on that standard, indicates the scale of shortfall in golf provision in the Lincoln Area.

Golf Holes
:t   '       '
Population in Target to meet    Actual                                       +or-
'         Lincolnshire within    Standard  Against Standard
*   '                           "'
•V           5km of City Centre   57 47 -10
10km  V          »3    65 -18
15km  93 83 -10
* {                    20km   107    152    +45
25km  148    224    +76

It reveals a distinct shortage of facilities in and around the urban area and for a distance of up to 15 kilometres from the City Centre. This is only 'remedied' by provision at some distance - in towns such as Gainsborough, Newark and Woodhall Spa and in the Trent Valley at Torksey and Laughterton. The possibility of a new golf course is therefore allowed for in the proposals for the development of the Skewbridge Area.