A former golf course on the South Downs could be turned into a centre for free-wheeling fun.

Brighton and Hove City Council is in “advanced negotiations” with a firm about turning the pitch and putt course in Rottingdean into a place to hire Segways.

But locals have raised concerns adding they fear it will harm the South Downs National Park and congestion.


John Carden, who lives in Saltdean and campaigned for the creation of the national park, said: “Somebody has just lost the plot.

“It’s on the edge of a local nature reserve and in the national park.

“I dread to think of the damage. And there’s no thought about parking – where will all the visitors park?”

The 18 hole course had been out of use since the former leaseholder decided running both Rottingdean and nearby Roedean Pitch and Putt was uneconomical.

The course had been marketed by estate agents Cluttons since October last year but had failed to attract much interest.

But after the local authority filled in the holes with concrete, it was decided to remarket the land for leisure use.

Prospective leaseholders would face a maintenance bill of £23,500 per year.

Locals claim the firm behind the proposal are Orb 360, which used to run the zorbing attraction at Devil’s Dyke.

Labour councillor Gill Mitchell said she would be seeking further details at the council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee meeting on October 8.

Coun Mitchell said: “I understand that the other option of incorporating the site within the adjacent Beacon Hill Nature Reserve has been rejected and wish to know the reasons for that decision.

“The proposed use would seem to be a clear departure from the stated aims of the Biosphere among which were the protection of the chalk grassland and maximum open access for all.”

Segways are two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered electric vehicles. They cannot be ridden legally on roads or pavements in Britain, which means their use is restricted to private land.

A council spokeswoman said: “Since the lease for the golf course expired, we have been exploring ideas for recreational uses of the site which would also preserve and improve the conservation of the green space.

“We have been in discussions with ward councillors and the parish council about possible uses, and are talking to a potential lessee.”