MEMBERS of South Winchester Golf Club are keeping positive amidst fears that a large scale development is on its way.

Residents and campaigners believe the course could soon become a new town featuring around 1,000 homes.

But club captain Ray Hallett said that the "strong membership" has high hopes.

Ray, who lives in Ampfield but has been a member for 11 years, said: "We know that a land survey has been carried out and us members had a message from the CEO of Crown Golf, Stephen Towers to say that it was conducted whilst the course was closed to not disrupt members.

"It has been clear that the land is on the city council's SHELAA list, this is not new news. The members do not own the club and its run on a corporate basis so this has always been a possibility.

"But Crown has invested in the strength of membership over the last 27 years, and we are keeping fairly sanguine about it all. At the same time, it will be a really sad day if the club is ever built on."

Save South Winchester Campaign Group, which is also battling the Royaldown scheme, sparked fear in the local community after finding a 'Bloor Homes' leaflet left by contractors.

In 2019, Bloor Homes developed Basingstoke Golf Course into a housing estate.

"It would be a shame to lose the club, of course, and we aren't happy about the uncertainty but have always been realistic," said Mr Hallett.

"Crown Golf run a business and if a capital sum comes calling you don't know what will happen and that's just the way it is."

Crown is also a property development company.

Last year, the firm announced that it had evolved from purely a golf course business into a property development company.

In 2020 it flogged seven of its courses after partnering with Jason Mills’ boutique property development and investment company, Sequoia Real Estate.

The most recent sale was Merrist Wood Golf Club in Surrey.

But Mr Hallett said the other sites were on leaseholds and that the only viable option for Crown was to sell.

South Winchester Golf Club has a contract with until 2026, meaning it can not be developed on until at least then

Mr Hallett said: "If an application was put forward there would be severe opposition and it would take years for anything to progress – just look at other sites in Winchester, like Barton Farm.

"There's not a lot we can do ourselves, but I want my club to be there for years to come. No one is happy, but there has been so much speculation over the last 20 years that the idea of development has been hanging over our heads like a cloud."