A GOLF course will be handed over to nature.

Brighton and Hove City Council has agreed to the rewilding of Waterhall Golf Course by a community interest company, whose details have not yet been revealed.

Waterhall will act as a wildlife corridor and remain open to walkers, with an education centre proposed in the fourth year of the rewilding process.

It will have a classroom to host between 1,000 and 3,000 children and adults a year.

Councillor Alan Robins said that the process was not as simple as just letting the land go.

He said: “I have learnt so much and listened to the concerns over what we do and don’t do. You don’t just let nature take over. You have to manage the land within an inch of its life. This chalk downland will take time and effort and it takes money. There is someone willing to put put time and money into it.”

Waterhall club president Bud Evans asked if it was a condition that the land was used for golf when it was gifted to the council in the 1920s.

Council leader Nancy Platts said the council had taken legal advice and the deeds said the site should be kept as “open space in perpetuity”.

Campaigners from Extinction Rebellion (XR) were outside Hove Town Hall to support the rewilding process.

Golf will remain at Hollingbury Golf Course.

Paul Wiseman, who is both a golfer and Extinction Rebellion member, told the committee that there were 9,000 people in the city who cared deeply enough about the environment and the future of the two clubs to sign petitions.

Mr Wiseman said that the two sites should not be mothballed, adding: “This will lead to a costly dereliction of the golf club infrastructure, degradation of the already-threatened features of ecological value and will contribute little or nothing to climate action.

“Please be clear, XR Brighton are not in any way opposed to golf continuing on the site.

“We believe that some reconfiguration of the golf course could allow it to continue functioning while addressing the climate and biodiversity emergency and while better serving the needs of the local community.”

The number of season ticket holders at Hollingbury Park has gone up from 271 in 2018 to 325 last year while the number at Waterhall fell from 94 to 88 in the past year.

A total of 15 bids were received, with three pledging to retain golf at Hollingbury Park and one for the sport at both clubs. Golf will continue at Hollingbury.

Three staff at Waterhall face redundancy but will be kept informed of vacancies within the council.