Dog walkers’ long-running battle with a golf club has finally come to an end after the course re-opened its gates to the public.
David Lloyd Leisure, in Staines Road, Hampton, said it would allow pedestrians to have access – despite vandals previously damaging its flags and equipment – after it agreed three conditions with Richmond Council.
It will open the gates for the same hours as the borough’s parks and will pay the authority for security staff to carry out extra patrols around the course.
The club also said it will hold regular meetings with neighbouring communities, including the Rivermeads Residents’ Association which collected about 500 signatures for a petition opposing the golf course closing its gates in March this year.
Hampton North Councillor Geoffrey Samuel, deputy leader of Richmond Council, said David Lloyd Leisure agreed to allow walkers back on to the popular path following weeks of negotiations.
He said: “We’ve been in negotiation with them for weeks and I said I wouldn’t rest until the gates are open.
“They are opening from the same hours as the council’s own parks, not 24 hours. Some residents - and I fully understand why - are disappointed that it’s not 24 hours.
“But it is to be hoped, if things go well over the next few weeks, we can persuade them to increase the hours.
“I really wanted to get them open as fast as possible, rather than argue.”
David Lloyd Leisure argued the path was not a public right of way but the council had leased it to the club, which was responsible for looking after it.
The authority’s lawyers scrutinised the terms before starting negotiations A spokeswoman for David Lloyd Leisure said: “Following a successful meeting with residents and council representatives, David Lloyd Hampton has agreed, at its own cost, to open the gates each day between 6.30am and 7.30am, and to close them at 8pm in the summer and 4pm in the winter.
“The council will extend its regular security patrols to include the golf course.
“We look forward to receiving the kind co-operation of residents in encouraging compliance with our pre-existing code of conduct for access around the golf course and regular meetings will be held with council representatives and residents to discuss any issues arising from this arrangement.”