Golf club closes despite attracting a large number of rounds

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir December 7, 2020 07:55

A Bedfordshire golf club has closed down after its leaseholder’s tenure expired – even though it attracted more than 30,000 rounds of golf on it in the last year.

The Bedford Golf Club closed down in October.

A spokesperson for Bidwells, the agent responsible for the land, told the Bedford Independent that it was the golf club’s decision not to renew their lease and the closure of the facility has been amicably agreed between the tenant and the trustees of the land.

She said she would be seeking to get a commercial income by making the clubhouse available to hire or changing its use to a children’s nursery, but there are no plans to build on the golf course.

“The business lease is at an end and the golf club has taken the decision not to renew their lease,” she said.

One local councillor said the club, which was opened in 1999, saw over 30,000 rounds of golf played at it in the last 12 months.

The Bedford GC. Image from Facebook

A fundraiser was set up in August with a view to appoint a barrister to advise the group on legal points relating to the planning situation surrounding the land.

The person who set that up, Natalie Wilson, added, “We know we can’t control what the landowner does, but the land was allocated as sports and leisure use, so we would like to retain a golf club on the site.

“However, our ultimate aim is to protect the land and object to any planning application for change of use for the buildings or for built development of the site.”

The trustees of Old Ford End Trust, which owns the land, said: “As trustees, we have a responsibility to ensure the land is producing income.

“Rather than allow the former club to become a derelict site that serves no purpose, we have a short to medium term plan to allow the land itself to be grazed as pasture or topped, for the clubhouse to be let as a nursery school or similar, and for the greenkeepers’ complex to be put on the market for an alternative use that will serve local businesses.

“These measures alone will significantly increase the return from the land and property while also continuing to serve the local community in some guise.

“We know there has been much speculation about housing development on the site. This is not being considered and no allocation for such has been put forward for the forthcoming Local Plan which covers at least the next five years.

“In fact, should any of our plans change we will commit to being transparent and engaging with the community first.”

A number of golf clubs have closed down during the pandemic, such as Brandon Wood Golf Course & Club, Allestree Park Golf Course, Letham Grange Golf Club, Swinton Park Golf and Country Club, Rusper Golf Club, Cleeve Hill Golf Club, Browns Golf Course, Brucefields Family Golf Centre, Bulwell Hall Golf Course and Country Park, Patsull Park Hotel, Golf and Country Club and Magnolia Park Hotel and Golf Club.

However, this is significantly less than in recent years, many more golf clubs have reported their strongest year ever in 2020 and at least two of the clubs in that list may survive or be resurrected according to recent reports.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir December 7, 2020 07:55
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  1. TGB December 8, 12:12

    A former member has emailed to state that the club’s management emailed members in February to state: ‘Our current lease ends at the beginning of October this year and we have been negotiating with the landlords to extend this term but as yet no agreement has been reached.

    ‘The landlords are looking at current market valuations for the golf club and buildings and will let us know their findings over the next few months.

    ‘We hope to continue at the golf club, but due to the current situation we feel we can only offer six months membership until the future of the lease has been confirmed.’

    Reply to this comment
  2. Community December 8, 11:11

    Unfortunately the comments made about the reason for closure don’t ring true. The landowner decided to close the golf course in 2018 despite the operators wishing to extend the lease for a further 5 years. Speculation that the licenced grazing of sheep on the land is just an inheritance tax move abounds!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Peter December 7, 21:52

    Not unusual actually !! 30,000 rounds doesn’t tell the whole story !! There is always, a much bigger chunk of profit, in “the buy!”

    Reply to this comment
  4. SteveM December 7, 16:20

    What a shame – unfortunately it feels this is all too common an occurrence these days

    Reply to this comment
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