Plans to transform Ilkeston’s Pewit Golf Course into a family-friendly nature reserve at the heart of the town was supported at a meeting of Erewash Borough Council’s Executive on 7 June.

The council will designate the site as a Local Nature Reserve, with ambitions for continual biodiversity improvements for wildlife and for the enjoyment of residents and visitors. It will also extend the wildlife attraction by linking to the adjacent Nutbrook Trail, Straw’s Bridge, Pewit Carr and Manners Flood sites.

A report effectively says that the use of the site as a golf course is not sustainable going forward due to substantial financial operating losses incurred by the council. It says the golf course was uneconomic pre-Covid and despite efforts made post pandemic, the situation is worsening and the scale of the financial shortfall would need income levels to increase by 500%-600% just to break even.

Pewit Golf Course has been reopened for just 9 months following its temporary closure due to covid restrictions. The total golf attendance between June 2021 and February this year was 2,204 which gave an average of just over 8 attendances per day for that period. Figures show that total expenditure significantly outstripped the income generated – highlighting that it equates to a subsidy of £1,378 per golf member.

The council works closely with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and would continue to do so at Pewit to ensure the correct management plans are in place for the site to formally gain Local Nature Reserve status.

It is hoped that by creating a welcome and wildlife-friendly site will see increased tree planting that will sit alongside the Queen’s ‘Green Canopy’ initiative to see more trees proposed for the country as part of her Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Councillor Carol Hart, Leader of Erewash Borough Council, says it’s hoped families and the community would support the ambition to create an environmentally-friendly, peaceful and family-orientated outdoor space that everyone can enjoy:

“We, of course, recognise the history of the site as a golf course but we have to review and look at its sustainability and consider the additional cost to our tax payers across the whole borough. It is with this in mind that we review this site, a significant site that could be changed from a financially difficult area to something that could be a family friendly nature reserve for people of all ages to enjoy.

“Nature reserves and open spaces have always been important but have become increasingly so in the world we are now living in – they give us all, young and old, the opportunity to help our mental health and wellbeing by being outdoors enjoying the flora and fauna and everything ‘green’.

“We are proud of the reserves and green spaces we have across our borough and Pewit would be an ideal site to increase our provision. Not only for us, as residents, but for the continued work we do with partners like Derbyshire Wildlife Trust to protect wildlife habitats and the natural features of Erewash.”

The meeting of Council Executive was held at Long Eaton Town Hall on Tuesday 7 June at 10.30am.