UK housing opposition to golf intensifies

Growing Golf
Architect announces plan to build 650 homes at Enfield Golf Club

Golf courses in the UK are under growing pressure from property developers and social campaigners seeking to redevelop their land into housing.

A lack of affordable homes, high rental prices and rising rates of homelessness have led to housing lobbyists targeting UK golf courses.

London: Enfield Golf Club

In London, architectural practice RCKa recently published ‘Holes to Homes,’ a research project analysing the ownership and land use of London’s 95 golf courses spread across 21 suburban boroughs.

The project featured mock plans for the redevelopment of Enfield Golf Club into a 650-home community of low-to-mid-rise tower blocks. 

Russell Curtis, the firm’s co-founder, told BBC News the plans were “deliberately provocative” and meant to highlight the value of alternative land use.

"Enfield has a profound problem with homelessness," said Curtis.

"Is that fair when it also has six golf courses?" 

Syngenta Golf has previously reported that a fast-growing global population, competition for urban green space and soaring house prices has piled pressure on struggling golf clubs who are then approached by developers with lucrative offers to sell land.

Keysborough and Kingswood Golf Clubs in Melbourne’s Sandbelt region have both accepted offers to sell and in Hong Kong, the city's administration is proposing to reclaim part of the historic Fanling Golf Club for social housing development.

Berkshire: Maidenhead Golf Course

A campaign is under way to stop developers building 1,800 houses at Maidenhead Golf Club, in Berkshire. 

The club sold its lease for the 132-acre site back to the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council for £16m in 2022. 

It has now partnered with CALA Homes on a development called The Elizabethan Quarter, which includes plans for residential homes, two schools, a local community centre, cycle paths and public open spaces.

Opponents of the scheme told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that they want to protect the land "for the benefit of people and wildlife". 

Tina Quadrino, of Maidenhead Great Park, said: "Maidenhead golf course provides a green lung for our community and important habitats for wildlife, including protected species like owls, bats and kestrels.

"With better management, it could be a vital place for nature recovery as well as a golf course.”

Sussex: Horsham Golf Club

In Sussex, pressure group Keep Denne Hill Green is fighting to stop Horsham Golf and Fitness and The Generator group from converting an 18-hole course into a sports village. 

The proposed development includes 800 homes, a pitch and putt course, mini golf, offices, a nursery, sports pitches and leisure facilities.

To read more about the growing threats facing golf and how the industry can respond, discover Syngenta Golf’s multimedia feature, ‘Golf Under Threat?’