CONSULTATION is under way on plans to merge two neighbouring golf clubs in a North-East town, potentially paving the way for a future multi-million pound executive housing development.

Plans are on the table for privately-owned Blackwell Grange Golf Club, in Darlington, to take over the nearby council-run Stressholme Golf Course.

On Thursday (November 8), Blackwell members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the plans, which would see a combined golf club opened on the Stressholme site.

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Darlington Borough Council, which runs Stressholme, has now launched a public consultation on the plans.

The council decided to look at options for the future of Stressholme for a variety of reasons, including increased pressure on town hall budgets.

It currently subsidises the site to the tune of about £178,000 per year.

If the proposed deal went ahead, Blackwell would buy the Stressholme site, with the council buying part of the land at Blackwell, which it would then look to sell on in the future for executive housing.

Both parties would share the proceeds of any future sale of this land.

The council already owns a portion of the land at Blackwell, which it leases to the golf club.

Residents are invited to give their feedback on the plans, with December 31 the deadline for comments.

The council is looking for answers to the following questions: • Should the council sell Stressholme rather than continue to subsidise it?

• If the merger went ahead, would Darlington have the right amount and type of golf clubs?

• Should the council try and sell some of the land at Blackwell to raise income to improve other assets in Darlington?

• Would the merger would be good for Darlington’s economy?

A council spokesman said: “The council is also working to ensure our borough is a place where people want to live, work and do business in the future - attracting the very best investment and business minds is key to this.

“Freeing up land for possible sale for executive housing could attract this investment and bring income to the council of up to £8m which would be used to further improve the borough.”

The council’s cabinet will make a decision on the future of Stressholme in January.

To comment on the plans, visit darlington.gov.uk/golfconsultation or email golf.consultation@darlington.gov.uk.

Alternatively, write to Golf Consultation, Darlington Borough Council, Freepost DL64, Town Hall, Darlington, DL1 5BS.