Entry Hill Park (former Golf Course)
This site is owned by BANES Council and operated as a golf course for around 35 years. BANES currently classify this site as a leisure site, not as a park. They generally expect that leisure sites will be contracted to an external operator who will run the site at no cost to the Council. They have no formal budget to maintain the site but are mowing the grass, creating paths etc so that people can still enjoy this space.
You can read more about the history of the open space on Entry Hill below, including the most recent proposal to develop a commercial mountain bike park on the site (to be called Bath Bike Park). This project was abandoned early in 2023, as the extent of the development constraints on the contaminated land and lack of available grant funding made it undeliverable. Work on this project including commissioning a detailed contaminated land study and any future activities will need to take the findings of this report into account.
This still leaves the question of how the site might be used in future. We plan to call it Entry Hill Park from now on, which reflects our aspirations to see this special place become a community resource, rather than a commercial leisure site. We are hopeful that BANES will reclassify it as a park in the future. If this happens, it will be possible to set up a 'Friends of Entry Hill Park' group which would become a vehicle for enabling a wide range of community activities to take place. Similar groups exist in other Bath parks, including Alexandra Park.
We have always regarded the cafe as key in providing a locus for community engagement and very much hope that someway can be found to open this for wider use. Anyone who has visited Alice Park and the cafe there will realise what an asset this can be.
The EHCA Committee are very keen to see a defined route across the site, to improve access between Wellsway and Entry Hill for walking and cycling. We would also like to see the Park become more permeable, with entry points at the upper and lower ends. This would be an opportunity to revisit some of the ideas which were put forwards in previous rounds of consultation - such as community orchard with fruit and nut trees.
We will continue to work hard on behalf of the local community to try get the best possible outcome for the greatest number of people. Please do let us know your thoughts on what you would like to see happen on the site in the future.
Recently, a group of residents in Hansford Square have come together independently to explore options for improving the biodiversity of the site and retaining it for community use. (Hansford Square is not part of the Entry Hill Community Association, but we are maintaining a good dialogue with members of the group.)
Whatever does happen on the site in future, we will work to ensure that the principles we drew up in 2021 will apply to any future development of the site. You can see our Priniciples Paper by clicking on this button.
In the 19th, and much of the 20th century, Entry Hill Golf Course was known as Lower Barrack Farm. By the 1970’s the City of Bath owned the land - it is said it may have been given to the City for the people of Bath - and was used for some years as a temporary overflow refuse tip. In 1984, after public consultion, the Council built the Golf Course. It was managed for the Council, by a golf professional, Tim Tapley, as a Pay and Play course. In 1985, regular golfers set up a club, affiliated to Somerset County Golf. The course thrived under the Council and its golf professional, for many years, teaching schoolchildren and adult golf beginners.
In 2003 the Council contracted out its leisure services provision and the golf course was no longer managed independently, losing its pricing identity and its focus on beginners. Tim Tapley opened a small cafe in the Golf Shop but this did not compensate for the shortfall in golf club income and Tim eventually moved on. In 2014, BANES recontracted their leisure services and tried to find a separate operator for its golf facilities at Approach and Entry Hill. However, this was not possible and in 2015 the Council's new leisure operator, GLL (Better) agreed to take on the management of the Entry Hill Golf Course, but the golf course was a small facility within a large contract and it continued to decline under this arrangement. BANES found themselves having to meet a shortfall of around £70k per year in operating costs,
By 2017, the Council was looking at alternatives for the site, which would remove the ongoing cost to its revenue account and in December 2019, they initiated a consultation exercise. There was considerable support for the idea of a family cycle centre/Mountain Bike park. While there was some controversy about the nature of the consulation, BANES felt that there was sufficient public interest in this for a bike park to be one of the ideas they took forwards in their analysis of options for the site, the other two being a golf related activity or open parkland with a cafe.
The Entry Hill site was closed for much of 2020, following the announcement of a national pandemic due to coronavirus; and the withdrawal of GLL from the operation of the site. As the nation went through a series of lockdowns, the value of this local green space increased and many more residents discovered the pleasures of using this safe space for exercise and recreation. It has always been an important haven for local wildlife and many more people enjoyed seeing a wide range of animals flourishing on the site.
Proposals for Bath Bike Park
At the end of 2020, BANES tendered for an alternative commercial operator. This resulted in a proposall to redevelop the site as a mountain bike park (Bath Bike Park).
The Entry Hill Community Association committee were not convinced that this is was the right site for a new pay-to-ride leisure/tourist attraction. The proposal would have seen 50% of the total area of the site fenced off for commercial use and would likely have generated significant additional traffic and parking, noise nuisance etc. We also did not see how it would deliver to those groups that BANES claims are its priorities for active leisure. We considered that this proposal missed a significant opportunity to redevelop the site in a way that would provide a much needed additional open space for local residents in BA2, who don't enjoy anything like the same level of park provision available in BA1.
By early 2023, it had become apparent that the proposal was simply not viable, due to various factors including the development constraints due to the contamination and lack of available grant funding in our post-Covid world. We have archived the webpages which related to Bath Bike proposal, but will happily make them available to anyone who is interested to learn more about this project.