Millionaire neighbours of Wentworth furious as it plans hotel extension

Martyn Clapham
By Martyn Clapham September 9, 2014 06:51 Updated

One of the most iconic golf clubs in the world, Wentworth in Berkshire, is facing a huge backlash from some of the richest people in the world, as it intends to build a high-end hotel on its venue.

Wentworth

Wentworth Club

The home of the PGA European Tour, host of the BMW PGA Championship and location for the first ever Ryder Cup wants to replace its outdoor pool with a three storey, 56 bedroom centre, that would dramatically increase the number of bedrooms it currently has (10).

Wentworth says it does not currently participate in the upscale golf leisure market due to the lack of bedroom capacity. The 10 rooms are mainly used by members, PGA staff and wedding guests.

However, the club is located in the Wentworth Estate – seven square kilometers of land that includes housing owned by some of the wealthiest people in the world, including, for example, the Sultan of Brunei, McLaren owner Ron Dennis and a number of footballers, pop stars and oligarchs.

Scores of these residents have written to Runnymede Council to object to Wentworth’s planning application, including even members of the club. Although in a sign of their worth, many have instructed their lawyers to write their objections on their behalf.

They have said the development will increase traffic volume and noise, and devalue properties, while members are concerned that there will be less space for parking at the club, which has more than 4,000 members (where the joining fee alone is a five figure sum).

The application site is also designated as green belt land.

Russian businessman Kirill Klip, 45, said residents felt “totally deceived” by the actions of the club and feared the extension would turn the estate into a “full-blown commercial hotel”, bringing higher crime rates and greater congestion.

“I’ve lived at Wentworth for the last 10 yeas and I don’t like to see the value of my house go down,” he said.

“But more importantly a lot of residents are appalled that this kind of development may be allowed on green belt land.”

He added: “We do not want Wentworth Estate, where we have our homes, to be turned into a cheaper version of Disneyland.”

Another resident, city lawyer Gill Switalski, added: “I bought my property on Wentworth, at considerable expense, to enjoy the quality of the surroundings.

“Construction on this hotel will not only increase population density and traffic volume, but will also increase noise, with the building itself becoming a blot on the landscape.”

Sir David Rowe-Ham, a former Lord Mayor of London who has lived on the estate for more than 30 years, described the development as “an attack on the green belt which, once lost, is gone forever”.

A spokesman for Wentworth said: “A planning application has been submitted for a sensitively designed and unobtrusive three-storey extension with overnight accommodation that will predominantly be for those members already visiting the club for golf, (including 450 overseas members who can now stay overnight) charity fundraisers or weddings. The extension will be accessed via the club, thereby not causing any additional disruption.

“We have been in consultation with the local authority and residents for the past 18 months and the plans have been on display in the club.”

 

Martyn Clapham
By Martyn Clapham September 9, 2014 06:51 Updated
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