Housebuilders are showing huge demand for golf courses

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 10, 2016 11:52

Some of the UK’s biggest housebuilders are stating that golf courses are currently in huge demand as an economic report calls for some of the country’s clubs to be sold off to property firms.

The demand is both to replace the golf courses entirely with homes and to build housing on some of their land so that the golf courses can remain in existence.

One of the country’s biggest housebuilders, Barratt Homes, is redeveloping a former golf course in Mount Oswald, Durham, into 180 four-to-five-bedroom homes. It also recently made an offer to members of Cambuslang Golf Club in Glasgow of £20,000 each to buy land.

Its chief executive, David Thomas, said there was currently both huge demand for and supply of golf courses within the sector.

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Flickr / Oregon State University

“Golf courses are unquestionably being made available for sale,” he said.

“It goes in phases according to changing land use. We had times when we were buying lots of bakeries. It just depends as to the ebb and flow of different sectors.

“Golf course membership is down by 20 percent over the past ten years. I think if you look at the history, it was perhaps the Tiger Woods boom — lots and lots of people joined golf clubs but now membership has dropped dramatically.”

His comments follow a report by the Adam Smith Institute, which recommended that more golf courses on protected green land should be sold off. Tom Papworth, the author, said: “We have to choose whether to protect valuable inner-city green space or sacrifice our golf courses and already-developed sites that happen to have once been classified as greenbelt.”

Already so far this year town planners have deliberated on a number of schemes involving housing at golf clubs.

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The recent Adam Smith Institute report

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Northumberland County Council has given the green light to multi-million pound plans for 43 homes, 30 percent of which will be ‘affordable’, on land next to Hexham Golf Club.

Dundonald Links in Scotland has also been given planning permission by North Ayrshire Council to build 45 houses. Its owner, Loch Lomond Golf Club, said the new housing will benefit the local community by increasing golfing facilities, events, additional spending in the economy, and creating new job prospects and attracting more people to live in the area.

But plans to build six executive homes on unused land at Middlesbrough Golf Club, designed to financially secure the club’s future, have been rejected by councillors.

Club officials had hoped the development would raise money to fund clubhouse refurbishments and improve playing facilities.

Mark Braithwaite, chairman of the club, said: “As I tried to outline at the hearing, the town has a state-of-the-art sports village, plans are being developed for the fabulous snow sports and ski centre, and hopefully we will have a Premiership football team again this year.

“From the golf club’s perspective, we want to play our part in putting Middlesbrough on the map, by reinvesting into the course and clubhouse to deliver a destination golfing venue that the town can be proud of.

“As a club, we are disappointed that councillors have not supported that vision.”

As part of the application, a statement from the club said its ‘forward-thinking’ committee is optimistic and aiming to ensure a ‘financially secure club whose course and clubhouse are generally regarded as the best in the area for members and visitors alike’.

It said: ‘Notwithstanding the club’s long term and well-established facilities, this has not made it impervious to the economic downturn experienced in recent years.

‘Like many similar clubs across the country, Middlesbrough Golf Club has experienced a steady haemorrhaging in member numbers and no longer has the membership waiting list it once had.’

The homes would have been four and five-bedroom properties, and built on the perimeter of the golf course. The club said the homes would have helped to address the ‘severe shortage’ of executive homes in Middlesbrough.

These council decisions come as Redrow, another major housebuilder, recently bought a golf course in Tamworth, Staffordshire. The 148-hectare site will provide 1,100 homes.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir March 10, 2016 11:52
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