Use golf courses as parks

During Covid, private golf courses were opened up to the public as few or no golfers were playing.  It was fantastic to be able to enjoy these open spaces and they were enjoyed by a lot of people, although not to the extent that they felt crowded or were damaged or littered.

What better way to provide much needed public open space than for the Council or community groups (through Community Right to Buy and with help from the Council) to acquire these and open them permanently to the public. 

Our community leases land from the council and manages it for public greenspace.  We also do non-park activities like growing fruit trees and improving wildlife habitats, so it produces multiple benefits.  This could happen if community groups took on management of former golf courses.  Alternatively, the council could manage them as parks.

Why the contribution is important

We're told that many private golf courses are in financial difficulties because interest in golf is declining.  The preferred option seems to be to sell to developers.  Once they're in the hands of developers then they'll be lost to the public for good.

During the lockdown, there was a huge increase in numbers of people using greenspaces, including parks and golf courses, and numbers have continued to be high, showing that there is a requirement for more greenspace than is provided by existing parks.  Indeed some parks are showing signs of overuse.

Developers are already acquiring several golf courses so we have a short time or the option for making this land potential public open space and/or community land will soon be lost.


by nickm on August 15, 2020 at 11:25PM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.8
Based on: 9 votes


  • Posted by Voiceofreason August 17, 2020 at 09:01

    What a super idea - all that the council has to do is stop chucking away its cash on idiotic vanity projects like the guided busway (remember that?) and the empty loss generating toy tram set so that it can use the money to buy a few golf courses. Perhaps it could equip them with wide paved sections so that mamils can pretend that they're in a peloton in some drug fuelled cycling event without clogging up roads.
  • Posted by kateKJ August 28, 2020 at 14:28

    Amazing idea! There are far too many huge golf courses in Edinburgh. This is something that should be pushed outside the city so everyone can enjoy being in nature. That would be so beneficial for everyone. Love it!
  • Posted by Voiceofreason August 28, 2020 at 17:21

    A golf course isn't "nature", it's a highly managed environment. As I said, if the council didn't waste so much cash on virtue signalling vanity projects, it could buy a couple and turn them into parks. It's skint, therefore it can't.
  • Posted by nickm August 30, 2020 at 23:03

    The council wouldn't need to put up any money. The Scottish Land Fund and other donors as well as public subscription could provide all the money needed. A golf course isn't nature but with the right (inexpensive) management can become more semi-natural and provide habitats for wildlife.
  • Posted by Voiceofreason September 01, 2020 at 19:29

    "The Scottish Land Fund and other donors as well as public subscription could provide all the money needed."

    Clearly you have no idea how much a golf course is worth.........

    By the way, the land fund's maximum grant is a million quid - that might cover the first hole of a course anywhere near Edinburgh.

    Good luck with the public subs, as well as finding a course that actually wants to sell up.
  • Posted by EmergencyTalks September 02, 2020 at 19:25

    The sale of a complete golf course is the last step in a process that takes time. It’s the final nail....
    I think this idea has merit particularly if applied early. Golf courses first start selling off parcels. I think if Edinburgh council was serious about preserving these green spaces the idea mentioned above should be instituted as each small parcel is offered up. Before planning permission is even considered for a change of use the plot in question should be offered to local community groups or charities. They can then gather themselves to investigate possible sources of funding for preserving green space.

    This has two benefits - it gives a chance for the green space to be preserved

    It gives the golf course a (smaller) cash injection while at the same time reducing ongoing maintenance costs for the club.

    Yes it would generate less cash for the club. But let’s be clear - the profit made from turning golf course land to residential space comes from the change of use allowed, not from any value added by the club or its membership. So the financial ‘reality’ that generates this situation is an artificially manufactured one.

    Meanwhile the COVID crisis is hollowing our office space in cities. New housing should be focussed on developing these empty sites now emerging all over as another commercial reality sees businesses give up office space to replace with working from home. Housing in these sites also benefits from an existing travel infrastructure . So no need to build new supporting infrastructure or create Easterhouse style housing islands

    There is therefore no societal need To rip up community green space which folk working from home will need more of. And There is also no need to throw away land which is capturing carbon at an accelerating rate at a time of climate emergency.

    The reasonable approach in these circumstances is to preserve our green spaces. Building companies currently targeting amenity spaces across the country for a quick and easy buck should be pulling with society (rather than against) and focussing on brownfield redevelopment. I would like to voice my support for this idea and I encourage Edinburgh council to adopt a policy that gives local communities a chance to preserve their green spaces.
  • Posted by tcav September 02, 2020 at 20:14

    Edinburgh wouldn’t be the same without the parks, playing fields and golf courses. I think the green areas are just as important as Edinburgh’s great buildings. We are fortunate early planners in Edinburgh had the wisdom to prevent building on Holyrood Park, Meadows, Princess St Gardens, Carlton Hill, Cavalry Park playing fields, Craigmillar park.etc . I am sure the wildlife appreciate the green refuges that enable them to survive in the city. ..... There are plenty of old industrial sites and areas of degraded farmland further from the city centre that can be developed. ……. I think we should all be doing our bit to preserve the environment for future generations.
  • Posted by Voiceofreason September 04, 2020 at 10:13

    Indeed, early planners had the vision to create shared green spaces like Princes Street gardens, however, it's a pity that in order to attempt to put a dent in the debt pile generated by decades of vanity projects, the council now feels it necessary to lock the public out of such spaces in an attempt to play at being a business. No more commercial usage of public spaces - ban the Xmas tat-fest and all concerts.
  • Posted by cyanad September 25, 2020 at 08:29

    As well as repurposing golf courses as wildlife habitats, we can use these spaces for increasing food sufficiency through permaculture design - planting orchards (apple, pear, plum, cherry), cane berry plants, low maintenance perennial vegetables such as perpetual spinach and herbs, with wildflower meadows.

    Scotland is highly reliant on food imports which make us vulnerable to food insecurity. With creative design, these spaces can serve multifunctional purposes.
  • Posted by Voiceofreason September 28, 2020 at 10:27

    Lovely, unfortunately, after decades of profligate vanity project expenditure, the council has no cash (or borrowing power) to raise the money required to buy, never mind redevelop, golf courses.
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