Planners are rejecting attempts to build housing on golf clubs

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 28, 2022 08:49

At least three planning applications to build housing on golf clubs have been rejected in the last few days.

The trend to build housing has been significant in recent years, ranging from golf clubs that want to secure their futures by building a few homes to councils converting courses into housing estates to meet local house-building targets.

The planning inspector has, for example, dismissed an appeal for nearly 400 homes to be built on Hawkhurst Golf and Squash Club in Kent.

The application by club owner CedarDrive was first submitted in 2018 and the golf course has since closed down.

The plan would have seen the demolition of the existing clubhouse and squash courts and the re-shaping of the golf course to take the houses, a care home, doctors’ surgery and community hall.

The planning inspector concluded that despite many positive aspects of the proposal, the harm done to the Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) would outweigh any good.

Meanwhile, Henlle Park Golf Club in Shropshire has also seen its plans, to reduce the course from 18 holes to nine, to make way for 90 cabins, rejected.

Shropshire Council refused to grant permission for the scheme, almost exactly a year after earlier plans for 120 cabins on the site were also rejected.

Lodging the revised plans in July last year, the applicant said the park would create more than 50 jobs and safeguard the existing seven at the club.

Despite the reduction in scale, planning officers said the development would have a detrimental impact on the surrounding landscape and nearby historic buildings and sites, including the non-designated Henlle Hall Park, the Grade II listed Henlle Hall and the setting of nearby scheduled sections of Wat’s Dyke.

The decision report said: “It is considered that the economic benefits of providing the holiday complex on part of the established golf course do not outweigh the harm that would be caused to designated and non-designated heritage assets and to the countryside as a whole due to the proliferation of self-contained holiday accommodation in the immediate area.

“The proposal scheme also now proposes to restrict the use of the golf course to only those that are staying, [which] would remove this facility.

“It is recognised that the site already has a leisure use by virtue of being a golf course.

“However, this is a low intensity use with very little in terms of visual and environmental impact other than the ongoing maintenance of the course, and consequently very little impact on the appearance of the landscape.

“In contrast the creation of a holiday park with 90 lodges has a much greater impact visually.”

And a golf club in Cornwall has been refused permission to build eight homes which it stated was needed to secure its future.

Bowood Park Hotel and Golf Club had applied to Cornwall Council for outline planning permission to build the homes on land next to the club.

However, the application was refused permission.

John Hughes, speaking on behalf of the applicant, told councillors that, like many golf clubs and similar leisure businesses, they had been impacted by Covid-19.

He said there was a need to look “outside the day-to-day business to get income” for the club and said that building the homes would help to do that.

He said that Bowood Park wanted to be a year-round venue and claimed that, if approved, the new homes would help to protect full and part-time jobs at the site.

He also said the proposed homes would be single storey bungalows which could be bought by older people looking to downsize which could free up local family homes for sale.

Planning officers had recommended it should be refused for several reasons including it being in open countryside, the lack of affordable housing and a lack of evidence that it would boost biodiversity.

Last year Anwyl Homes was also refused permission to build 233 homes at Widnes Golf Club, which would have also resulted in the course being reduced in size from 18 holes to nine. A public inquiry regarding this is now taking place.

Pennant Park Golf Club in Flintshire also applied last year to add 49 caravans on land formerly used as a practice area for golfers – but this looks set to be refused.

This is not to say all plans like this are being rejected. Also in the last few days a council planning officer has recommended approval for the development of 223 homes on Reading Golf Club.

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 28, 2022 08:49
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