“IT’S A CASE OF ‘RAIN STOPPED PLAY'” – WEST SUSSEX COUNTY TIMES – LETTER – APRIL 9 2020
The Chairman of Ifield Golf and Country Club [IGCC] writes in a recent Newsletter to members:
“IGCL [Ifield Golf Club Limited] have issued a statement making clear that the purchase of the golf course land is not going ahead at the present time. Homes England have said that the deal is on “pause” due to the uncertain times we are currently going through…Therefore, in the absence of the deal happening, IGCL will continue to be our landlord…We will continue to contest the planning for housing on our golf course”
So, has a major battle against the developer Homes England – who plan to build 10,000+ houses within this ancient Parish [of which Ifield Golf Club was “the first phase”] – been won?
Using a cricketing analogy, it is simply a case of ‘Rain Stopped Play’.
‘The Battle for the Soul of Ifield’ will re-commence when the rain has stopped – that is, when the Virus crisis is over.
Richard W. Symonds
“NO COMPLETION ON SALE OF GOLF COURSE FOR DEVELOPMENT” – CRAWLEY OBSERVER + WEST SUSSEX COUNTY TIMES – APRIL 8 2020
Homes England has so far failed to buy land at Ifield Golf Club, which forms part of its plans for 10,000 homes west of Crawley.
Tuesday, 7th April 2020
Rather than giving those opposed to the massive development a reason to celebrate, the lack of a sale is little more than a blip for the government’s housing agency, which still aims to buy the 160-acre site.
Project director Ken Glendinning said: “Homes England were unable to complete the acquisition before the end of our financial year.
“The acquisition will be included in our future investment plans.
“The development at West of Ifield will take over 30 years to complete, so the current delay, should not have a long-term impact on the provision of much-needed local homes.”
If the scheme gets the go-ahead, it would add three new neighbourhoods to the 14 that already make up Crawley, with 35 per cent of the new homes classed as affordable.
There would be primary and secondary schools, community facilities, up to 50 per cent green space and a western relief road.
There has been vocal opposition to the development, with Crawley Borough Council openly opposing the plans.
The scheme rests on whether Horsham District Council will allocate the site for housing in its Local Plan, which will guide development in the area up until 2036.
While the draft plan is scheduled to be consulted on this autumn/winter, leader Ray Dawe has written to the Secretary of State asking for ‘more flexibility’ with the timetable given the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“IFIELD GOLF CLUB LIMITED [IGCL] HAVE ISSUED A STATEMENT THAT THE PURCHASE OF THE GOLF CLUB IS NOT GOING AHEAD…HOMES ENGLAND HAVE SAID THAT THE [£3BN] DEAL IS ON ‘PAUSE’…”.
Saturday 4th April 2020
We have been concerned for some days now that the offer of a new 5-year lease, in place of our existing lease with compensation (Option 1), was looking unlikely.
Despite our best efforts in meeting the timetable set by our current and potential landlords, the date for completion passed with no result. IGCL have issued a statement making clear that the purchase of the golf course land is not going ahead at the present time. Homes England have said that the deal is on “pause” due to the uncertain times we are currently going through.
It is a stretch to believe that, with the current government spend overload, they will succeed in being allocated future funding, particularly as the market price for land may be seriously undermined by the impact of current policy. Therefore, in the absence of the deal happening, IGCL will continue to be our landlord.
We will continue to contest the planning for housing on our golf course.
Recent news is: –
Cottesmore seeking planning for housing development in the HDC master plan thus probably leading to closure of their 27 holes [See below – Ed]
Haywards Heath GC agreeing to support developer’s demands for closure of their course on gaining planning approval
The likely loss of Rookwood GC for housing development
The closure of Rusper GC in September
All these possibilities will leave Horsham Council with a key decision on retention of sporting amenities that would not have been foreseen.
I hope you are all well and coping with this lockdown as best you can. We are certainly missing the buzz of having you all around the Club.
The last two years have brought their challenges to say the least: the fire, the 6 month rainfall and currently the Covid-19 pandemic. Each has had a detrimental financial effect on the Club and have led to numerous and in-depth family discussions as to how best to safeguard the business and its future.
As such we’ve made the decision to join a number of local golf clubs by putting forth a representation to Horsham District Council confirming that, if suitable, the land is available for future local housing development needs. There will be no change at all in the current running of the business during this exploratory phase. It is in the very early stages of the process, but naturally once in the public domain becomes common knowledge and we feel we should inform you personally before this happens.
The Horsham District Local Plan is currently under review and may consider our proposal. If the proposal has merit it is our intention to retain around 30 acres surrounding the Club building. We intend to enhance its status as a local vibrant hotel, function and wedding venue, together with the health club and beauty salon. Landscaped grounds, potentially including a driving range and cricket pitch would also assist retaining employees. This will all remain under family ownership and management.
The direct effects of the decline in popularity of playing golf began back in the early 2000’s, resulting in the reduction of our courses from 36 to 27 holes in 2013; with annual roundage numbers falling from 50,000 to below 30,000. It’s been a real shame to see such a demise in demand and popularity for such an enriching and exciting sport.
Some may already be aware that some of the redundant golf course land adjoining Pease Pottage is already being promoted for housing development by A2 Dominion. A2 Dominion were chosen due to their stature as a national leading provider of key worker and affordable housing. Private dwellings also form part of their developments, however, as a non profit organisation all of their profits from the private sales are reinvested in building more affordable and key worker homes and supporting the communities where they work.
As part of exploring long term strategies for Cottesmore, A2 Dominion will also be discussing options for housing development on the remaining golf course land with Horsham District Council. The local council is under instruction from the Government to build approximately 1000 homes a year for the next 15 years. On top of that allocation, Horsham District Council will most likely also have to provide housing for Crawley, so potentially 20,000 homes over the next 15 years. It seems it is going to happen, it’s just a question of where.
The family has very deep emotional connections with the golf courses, as we know you do too. However, as a family business we must be open minded to future change and adapt accordingly if required to maintain viability. The demise of the golf business internationally is well-documented. Whilst we have retained minor golf revenue growth of around 1% over the last six years, through inventive and well-priced membership initiatives, that has been in the face of substantial rises in overheads, expenses and capital expenditure on golf course machinery. In the last two years we have invested heavily once again in course maintenance equipment: in contrast, green fees prices have not been raised in 20 years.
The current collation of the Local Plan by Horsham District Council is not due to be completed before early 2022. Essentially it is a process with no known outcome. As such we remain committed to investing in and presenting our golf courses to the highest standard we can achieve – it is business and golf as usual at Cottesmore in the meantime.
The Rogerson Family
Matt & Sue, Helen, Johnny & Louisa