ALMOST 1,000 people have signed a petition opposing the closure of a car wash at a ‘pay and play’ golf course, in Wheathampstead.

Operators of the car wash were first told to cease in 2015, after St Albans City and District Council considered a retrospective planning application.

And earlier this year – after losing a planning appeal – they complied with an enforcement notice and left the golf course site.

At a meeting of St Albans City and District Council on Wednesday (October 9) councillors were presented with a petition opposing the closure, signed by almost 1,000 people.

Presenting the petition to the council, Barney Puttick said the service had been popular with users of the low-cost recreational golf facility, who are predominantly retirees.

He said there had been synergy between the two businesses – with the car wash making a useful contribution to the golf course’s income, particularly in the winter months.

And he said the golf course may now look to submit its own application for a car wash on the site.

“Clearly these are our problems from a financial point of view, not the council’s,” said Mr Puttick.

“However, we would like to think that you might be sympathetic and supportive to a local business such as ours in struggles to continue trading.”

And he said:”We are minded to explore possibility of submitting our own application to provide a car wash facility for our clientele and local area with council planning officers and address any issues that they have.”

It was reported to councillors that planning permission for the car wash had been refused because of the golf course’s position within the ‘metropolitan green belt’, because it was an inappropriate and unsustainable use and detrimental to the open character.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Jamie Day said that while he appreciated there was local support for the car wash, a public petition could not overturn a planning decision.

He said the application had been refused because it was inappropriate and unsustainable in the green belt.

And he said there were further environmental consideration, with the use of  detergents and the brake dust and pollutants from the cars.

“That’s not good for the environment,” he said.

Cllr Day said the business considerations highlighted by Mr Puttick couldn’t be taken into account in planning.

“We have a planning system,” he said. “This was a clear breach of it and I don’t see how  we can – on a petition basis – say ‘well that’s okay we want it, let’s overturn it’.

“We have a system. We have to stick to it – and those are the rules.”