Plans to save England’s oldest golf course from coastal erosion have been given a green light.

The storm damage at Northam Burrows and Royal North Devon Golf Course in 2018. Picture: Raymond GoldsmithThe storm damage at Northam Burrows and Royal North Devon Golf Course in 2018. Picture: Raymond Goldsmith

Torridge District Council's plans committee unanimously approved the application to alter the course at Royal North Devon Golf Club in Westward Ho! at a meeting on Thursday (September 5).

The course on the coastline of Northam Burrows Country Park dates back to 1864, making it the oldest golf club in England.

Councillors took no time at all in unanimously approving the plans, which include amendments to the green on the seventh hole, a replacement eighth hole, tee and green, new ninth hole tees and a wooden footbridge.

The work was considered essential in ensuring 18 Championship golf holes remain on the course, alongside its status as the oldest course in England.

The entrance to Royal North Devon Golf Club. Picture: GoogleThe entrance to Royal North Devon Golf Club. Picture: Google

Mark Evans, manager at Royal North Devon Golf Club, said: "This is a help to the golf club and we're delighted that the council has seen that in unanimously accepting these plans.

"We've had 8,000 people visit the course this year and people visit from all over the world, which is great for the local economy in North Devon.

"We're pleased with the outcome but disappointed we can't do something with the sea defences, which would have been the sensible option in some respects."

Work is expected to take place in September next year.

The application was made in the wake of continued coastal erosion and sea water flooding, which would have meant eventually losing the greens on the current seventh and eighth holes.

Storm Eleanor ripped 49ft of land away from behind the eighth tee in 2018 and 20ft of sand dune beside the seventh green was washed away during the same winter. The seventh green is now just 35ft from the edge of the erosion.

A report on the application said the plans are likely to have a limited life and further movement of holes and tees will be required in the future, with the Environment Agency suggesting more movement would be required in five-to-10 years.

Mr Evans said: "We are obviously concerned with the Environment Agency's estimation. We don't necessarily agree with those, as the sea defences are a bit stronger at the seventh tee, but unfortunately these things can change quite quickly."