Manchester golf club closes down amid competing bids to buy the land

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 7, 2020 07:45

A 94-year-old golf club with 290 members in Salford has closed down amid reports that a housing company and a campaign group were both bidding to buy it, but only one had backing from the local council.

According to the Manchester Evening News, Swinton Park Golf and Country Club has been at the centre of a multi-million pound deal to purchase its 100 acres of land and convert it into housing, three times in the last two years, and each time the deal has fallen through.

Swinton Park Golf and Country Club. Image from Facebook

The latest attempt was by Your Housing Group, on behalf of its subsidiary NUVU, which provides homes for rent and shared ownership. Plans included turning the existing clubhouse into a community centre, and creating a nine-hole golf course as well as building hundreds of homes.

It fell through after Salford City Council, in a bid to mediate between the club, the housing company and the campaign group – called Save Our Swinton Park – which is supported by Mayor of Salford, Paul Dennett, ran a viability study that concluded in late September that the golf club is viable.

The club’s major shareholder, Alan Nuttall, disputed the results of this study, saying the club has posted large losses in the last three years (£63,000, then £33,000 and then £80,000), was losing £10,000 a month, owed £110,000 in VAT and £150,000 in other debts, and this situation had got worse due to coronavirus as bar takings had been badly hit.

The golf club then closed down on September 30.

The next day, Your Housing Group, which had previously commissioned a report on the state of the club and concluded it was not viable, pulled out of the deal, seemingly under the impression that the council would not back a conversion of the land into housing due to the viability study.

Nuttall said he put in £700,000 to save the club in 2017 when it was on the brink of going bust. Another 21 members of the club bought shares and raised £1.235 million in total. They had been set to cash in if the club had been sold for an eight-figure amount.

It is not clear what will happen to Swinton Park Golf and Country Club now it has closed down and the housing company has pulled out, but Nuttall says it is unlikely it will be sold to the campaign group, which is reportedly offering £1.5 million.

According to the Manchester Evening News: ‘Due to ‘animosity’ towards the owners by most members, it would be unlikely that they would ever sell the club to the campaign group [which includes members of the golf club].’

Last year the club agreed to be sold to Bellway Homes for £30 million. However that deal did not materialise, and in 2018 the club rejected a £15 million bid by developer, Peel, for the club.

Mayor Dennett said: “It could never be a truly difficult decision to try and protect a near 100-year-old institution with so much history.

“This site is not in our Local Plan to meet housing need targets set by national government.

Swinton Park Golf and Country Club. Image from Facebook

“It has been the site of sports and recreation for a century, an important local amenity, and from our recent audit clearly a commercially viable entity.

“I firmly believe we can defend tradition whilst providing for this city’s housing needs – and that is what we intend to do.”

Dave Marsh, of the Save our Swinton Park group, said: “Swinton Park has a long and proud history, dating back to 1924. It is more than a golf club for many members and is in fact a way of life for them.

“An independent expert confirms that the club is viable as a golf club, even more so given Covid which has seen a resurgence of interest in golf.

“The members believe that during the last two years the owners deliberately ran down the club. In addition all the uncertainty over the future of the club has created a toxic environment and members have left.

“Sadly, the owners have now decided to close the course for good. This is a catastrophe, both on the heritage and history of Salford, and also on the environment.

“The club should be celebrating its centenary in six years time, not being left to turn into an overgrown piece of wasteland.”

 

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir October 7, 2020 07:45
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1 Comment

  1. Devine October 6, 10:17

    Almost every day I read about Golf clubs that have been forcibly shut!

    A sad sight to see as a clubs history and story comes to an end.

    As a result of the current health pandemic the golf industry has in contrast to other industries experienced massive growth.

    Which begs the questions:
    Why are these clubs being left behind?
    And
    How can we inject life into clubs that are struggling ?

    Or is the closure the only option. ❌

    As a optimist I believe there is ways to prevent this from happening but haven’t quite nailed down exactly what that is!

    Would love to hear some thoughts
    (Even from the non golfers) ⛳️

    Reply to this comment
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