Plans revived to turn former Borders golf club into holiday resort

The old Rutherford Castle golf course at West Linton.
The old Rutherford Castle golf course at West Linton.

A developer has teed off on an ambitious bid to convert a former Borders golf course into a holiday park.

Scottish Borders Council has received an application notice for the conversion of the former Rutherford Castle Golf Club near West Linton into a holiday destination.

A sign pointing to the old Rutherford Castle golf course at West Linton.

A sign pointing to the old Rutherford Castle golf course at West Linton.

The proposal includes space for more than 250 holiday lodges, more than 200 touring caravan pitches, treehouses, a clubhouse, swimming pool and restaurant.

Nottingham-based development firm Richmond Wight Estates first unveiled plans to transform the 200-acre site into a holiday village two years ago, but no full planning application was ever submitted.

Now, the golf course’s new owner, London-based Sandy Lane Resorts Rutherfords, is preparing to take the development on.

That news has been greeted with caution by West Linton Community Council and local councillors.

Heather Anderson, a Tweeddale West ward councillor on Scottish Borders Council, is adopting a wait-and-see approach to the proposed development.

She will make an informed judgement only after a full application is submitted, a community information event has been staged and West Linton Community Council has had an opportunity to respond, she says.

Her biggest concern is the impact an influx of a vast number of visitors would have on the village.

She said: “The scale is significant, and it might prove fabulous, but the population of the village is 1,400, and I am conscious that if up to 1,000 people turn up, it will have a big impact on the village by potentially doubling its population.

“It is great that people are interested in bringing employment opportunities to the village, but we have also to pay attention to the scale.”

Graham Tulloch, chairman of West Linton Community Council, was also careful not to pre-judge the proposal.

He said: “With 263 holiday cottages, 206 touring caravans, 15 treehouses and 20 glamping pods, the development has the potential to double the size of the community, which will put a strain on local infrastructure, but we will wait and see and not make a pre-judgement until a full application is submitted.

“The applicant have said they will be writing to West Linton Community Council in due course and staging a public event in March, at the school, I believe.

“Obviously, we are very aware that there are people who need the jobs that this development would bring, but we also need to assess the impact such a large development would have.”

The golf course was forced to close its doors due to falling membership in 2015.

It was operating at a loss, with membership at just 56 golfers, and after its closure Richmond Wight Estates expressed an interest in creating a tourist haven.

At the time, Chek Whyte, managing director of the firm, said: “We estimate that the project will create around 100 full-time jobs and another 100 part-time jobs when completed.

“The land at Rutherford Castle enjoys a very picturesque situation beneath the Pentland Hills.

“It will make a wonderful location for our luxury lodge and leisure development, bringing new visitors to the area to enjoy this part of Scotland. We believe this to be a huge positive.”