Businessman Stewart Smith has backed down in a row over an historic bowling green – after a message from beyond the grave.
Mr Smith has been locked in a dispute with bowlers since securing a two-year option on the former Newsome WMC site.
Members of Newsome Community Sports and Bowling Club were turfed off the century-old green when Mr Smith unveiled plans to build homes on the land.
The bowlers were left fuming and accused Mr Smith of trying to cash in at their expense.
After months of bitter wrangling Mr Smith has now given hope to the bowlers – after his late grandfather Frank came to him in a dream.
“I know it sounds unbelievable and I don’t normally believe in things like this but it really happened,” said Mr Smith.
“I had a dream one night and when I woke up I drew a sketch from my dream.
“My grandfather was a bowler with Taylor Hill WMC and would have played on this green many times. This is what he wants and I feel I have to do this. It’s grandad’s gift.”
Mr Smith took a two-year option on the land when the club went bust. He opened a pub, The Newsome Tap, and allowed the bowlers to remain until the end of last season when he fenced it off.
He submitted plans to build four townhouses and three bungalows.
Bowlers claim the green has a covenant protecting it from development. They staged a protest and took an angle grinder to break through the spike-topped metal fencing.
Mr Smith has now passed his sketch to his architect who has drawn up new plans which show two pairs of semis with an access from St John’s Avenue. The green is reduced in size with a pavilion behind.
He says he will “gift” the slightly smaller green and a new pavilion to the community as long as he obtains planning permission for a pair of semis.
“My grandfather has come up with a way forward and the bowlers can have their green on the proviso I get the semis,” he said.
The pub, opened by former Coronation Street star Bruce Jones, has since closed and Mr Smith said: “I have spent a lot of money on planning and on the pub but I have now followed this message from beyond the grave.
“Financially it’s not going to do me any favours but I have been touched by it.”
The green dates back to 1905 and was county standard in its heyday.
Mr Smith said he was close to taking up his option to buy the land.