Golf Course Architecture - Issue 56: April 2019

1 Pending permission A s I write, in late March, the public inquiry into the proposed Coore & Crenshaw course at Coul Links, north of Dornoch in the Highlands of Scotland, has just concluded. The officials in charge of the inquiry will now go away and write their report, which will then – probably in the summer – go to the Scottish government, who will take the final decision on whether or not the course can go ahead. It has been quite a ride. Given the strong local support for the project, and the unanimous vote in its favour by the local council (the responsible planning body, let us not forget), they could legitimately hope to be in construction by now, rather than waiting for a politician at Holyrood to give them the final yay or nay. It was probably inevitable that a development of this kind, on a site of this nature, should attract national attention and be called in by the Scottish government. That, we can accept. What is harder to cope with, especially for those of us who know the people involved and how serious they are about doing a good job, is the lingering sense that Coul would not have had such a fight had it not been for the development of the Trump International course north of Aberdeen ten years ago. Unlike Coul, Trump International was rejected by the local council, then called in and rammed through by the Scottish government. I am not qualified to judge whether, in planning terms, this was a wise decision or not, but post-facto evidence shows clearly that the mobile dune, the centrepiece of the environmental objections to Trump International, has indeed been destroyed. I found it telling that GEO Foundation, hardly an example of a golf-hating body, was firmly against in the Aberdeen instance. GEO has not expressed an opinion on Coul. Someone who certainly has, however, is Dr Tom Dargie, leader of the Not Coul opposition group, who was a paid consultant on the Trump International project, though it should be said the developers rejected his advice. It is not surprising that, after this experience, Dr Dargie should have a bad case of buyer’s remorse. But buyer’s remorse is not a good basis on which to determine planning policy. WELCOME ADAM LAWRENCE