NOVEMBER 6 2020 – THE BATTLE FOR IFIELD GOLF CLUB AND BEYOND

Ifield Golf Club

“Homes England do not own the Golf Course yet but they are getting close. We are fighting it all the way. We are focusing on the golf club as a sporting amenity protected by planning law. See the attached letter to HDC from our planning consultant. I also attach a copy of a recent letter I and many Ifield Golf Club members wrote to HDC. The help of the Ifield Society is greatly appreciated”

Richard Cowlard – Chairman and Trustee – Ifield Golf Club

 

Local Plan Team
Strategic Planning
Horsham District Council
Chart Way
Horsham
RH13 5AA

18 September 2020

Dear Ms Howe

Ifield Golf Club, Rusper Road, Ifield, Crawley RH11 0LN
Regulation 18 Strategic Policy 14 – Options for Housing Growth SA101: Land West of
Ifield

I act on behalf of Ifield Golf Club as their retained Planning Consultant.

On 4th August your colleague Julia Hayes confirmed that as work is continuing on site
assessments, we were welcome to submit further information relating to supply of golfing
facilities in the local area.

The submission to the Horsham Local Plan Regulation 18 Consultation by Parker Dann dated
23rd March listed those golf clubs in Horsham and surrounding districts that were either
reduced in size, closed, or due to close in the foreseeable future. The situation at other clubs
has a direct effect on the value of Ifield Golf Club to the local community, as decreased
availability of golf elsewhere increases demand on remaining clubs.

Supply and Demand of Golfing Facilities in the Region

To update to the 23rd March submission, Cottesmore Golf Club, five miles from Ifield Golf
Club, is in negotiations with a partner with a view to redevelopment for housing.
Effingham Park Golf and Leisure Club, 8 miles east of Ifield, closed at the start of the
pandemic and has not reopened. The fairways have been abandoned and there are no
green keeping activities. It is unlikely that the club will reopen.
Rusper Golf Club is closing on 19th September 2020, having been purchased by a housing
developer last year.
An outline application for 725 dwellings and related facilities that would result in the
wholesale loss of Haywards Heath Golf Course (HHGC) has now been submitted to Mid
Sussex District Council (DM/20/0559).

The Planning Statement submitted in support of that outline application (Rodway Planning
Consultancy Ltd, Feb 2020) erroneously claims that NPPF paragraph 97 is met because the
Club’s lease is not being renewed by the owners when it expires in 2022. The applicants
claim that this means that irrespective of the outcome of the planning application, the land
will not amount to “existing open space, sports and recreational buildings and land” come
2022. This is a nonsensical argument, for the reason the owners have advised the club that
the lease will not be renewed is simply because there is a possibility of redevelopment as an
urban extension with Fairfax.

Fairfax has been working with HHGC to relocate the club to another site for the past two
years. That the club has sought to relocate (not close down) is demonstrable proof that the
club owners are aware that demand for this sports facility is very much alive. It proves that
were there no prospect of residential development the land would continue to operate as a
golf club for many years to come.

The situation with the lease at HHGC reflects that at Ifield Golf Club, where the current
owners have told the club that the lease will not be renewed when it comes up for renewal in
2022. This is not because of a lack of demand for golf, but because of the freehold
company’s desire to realise the land’s development potential. Homes England’s option does
not eliminate the demand for golf, nor the need to comply with NPPF paragraph 97.
With the volume of club closures and contractions planned, Ifield Golf Club will be an oasis in
a golfing desert.

Golf was one of the first recreational activities to be allowed to resume after the covid19
lockdown in May 2020. Being an outdoor sport, the risk of viral transmission between golf
players is very small and it is already apparent that golf’s popularity has increased as a result.
With indoor sports restricted for the foreseeable future, there is greater demand for outdoor
sport and recreation. Participation rates in recreational golf have increased nationally as a
result.

Reflecting this trend, Ifield Golf Club’s membership has increased 20% since the covid-19
lockdown and visits by non-members, either paying a green fee or as a member of a golfing
society, has totalled 3,500 visits. This is a staggering amount, indicative of unmet demand for
outdoor sport and consequent sea-change in the popularity of golf amongst those seeking
non-contact, open air sport and recreation. This trend is set to continue due to permanent
behaviour change caused by the pandemic.

It is an irony that in the months preceding the pandemic so many golf clubs entered into
negotiations with developers, or contracted their facilities, unaware that unforeseen events
would lead to a real and sustained upsurge in demand for golf. With clubs unable to renege
on contractual agreements with developers, and closing across the region, those clubs
remaining have a very bright future ahead of them.

The balance of demand and supply has been put squarely in perspective by the after effects
of the pandemic and the need to maintain non contact outdoor sports as a vital part of
health and fitness for a local and growing population. In this climate, as a members club
with affordable rates, Ifield Golf Club will be in a unique position to serve existing and new
communities in a post-covid world.

Homes England Regulation 18 Submission

In its submission to HDC on the Regulation 19 Consultation, Homes England states that
“there remain no barriers to delivery of (site SA101, Land West of Ifield)”

This is untrue.

Homes England Representations on Horsham District Draft Local Plan 2019 – 2036 (Regulation 18)

The loss of the golf club without its replacement by equivalent or better provision is a major
barrier to the delivery of the site. The agency has submitted zero information to prove that
paragraph 97 is met. With each successive closure and contraction of other golf courses in
Horsham and the surrounding area the value of Ifield Golf Club as a sporting and
recreational facility to the community becomes ever more obvious.

Furthermore, Homes England’s Interim Sustainability Appraisal Growth Options 2
justifies the loss of Ifield Golf Club on the grounds that their development would deliver 50% green
space “parts of which could be used by residents for recreational purposes”.

This does not meet paragraph 97, which requires lost sporting and recreational facilities to
be replaced by equivalent or better provision in terms of quantity and quality in a suitable
location. Corridors or pockets of ‘green space’ are not the equivalent of a near one hundred
year old, 130 acre, top of the range 18 hole golf course in a mature parkland setting with full
membership.

This scant consideration given to the golf course in its Regulation 18 submission, coupled
with Homes England complete failure to offer to work with the club to find alternative
facilities, displays the agency’s brazen disregard for the golf course and its value to the
community. It speaks volumes about how much Homes England is really concerned about
the impacts of its proposals on local people, and its unwillingness to comply with national
planning policy.

Homes England’s continued hand waving away of justifiable concerns about the loss of Ifield
Golf Club needs to be robustly challenged by the local planning authority now, at the
evidence gathering stage of the Local Plan.

We implore you to require Homes England to carry out a full assessment of golfing facilities
in the area at this, the Plan making stage, and not leave such a fundamental part of strategic
decision making to a planning application.

Yours sincerely

Debbie Marriage BSc (Hons) MA MRTPI
DJM Town Planning – On behalf of Ifield Golf Club

 

 

 

Local Plan Team

Strategic Planning

Horsham District Council

Chart Lane

Horsham RH13 5AA

28th October 2020

 

Dear Sir

HOMES ENGLAND’S PLANS FOR LAND WEST OF IFIELD – SA101

As there is no formal consultation with members of the public in respect of Environmental Impact Assessments or Scoping Opinions, I am writing in respect of the Homes England recent submission of Scoping Opinion application and an A1 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) /20/0004.

In the document submitted by Homes England it states the following: –

12.4.12 The proposed Development will involve the redevelopment of Ifield Golf Club. Ifield Golf Club is a private member’s golf club, FOUNDED IN 1927 located on the west side of Crawley within Horsham District Council boundary.

12.4.13 There are two other golf clubs within 5 km of the proposed Development. These are Rusper Golf Club to the north west and Cottesmore Golf Club to the south. Both clubs charge a similar amount for annual membership fees. Cottesmore Golf Club, like Ifield, is a member of the Sussex County Golf Union. There are currently 61 golf clubs that make up the Sussex Golf Union.

12.4.14 According to the governing body for amateur golf, England Golf, Golf club membership is on the rise in England. The biennial survey paints a positive picture for golf club membership in England. Since the 2016 survey, average membership numbers per club, per annum is up by 24. In 2016, the average number was 460 and in 2018 that is up to 484. 

For your information Ifield has a membership of 557 and is growing daily.

I am writing to point out the false and misleading information contained in the HE documents, namely: –

  1. Rusper golf course has closed.

  2. Cottesmore’s owners plan to seek planning for housing on their golf courses and have advised members of impending closure. 

  3. Horsham Council have publicised their plans for closure of Rookwood golf course for housing development.

  4. I would also point out that Effingham Park’s 9-hole golf course some 5 miles away has also closed and not likely to reopen.

  5. Redhill and Reigate golf course closed 2 years ago leaving a big gap in the market to the north of Ifield.

  6. Another possible closure is Haywards Heath Golf Club who have been informed by their landlord that he will not renew their lease in 2022.

  7. HE correctly point out that demand for golf is increasing and memberships on the rise.  Clearly, the need for Ifield Golf Club as a community sporting facility is more pressing than ever. 

  8. Under the National planning policy framework (NPPF) Paragraph 97, no assessment of sport and recreation buildings and land has been undertaken by HE. Therefore, no conclusions can be drawn about the club being surplus to requirements, as their scoping main report para. 12.4.13 implies. This assessment is a fundamental, basic requirement of planning policy and the Local planning authority should insist that HE carries this out now.  

It is becoming obvious to all golfers locally that in a couple of years from now, there will be a dearth of choice for a game of golf or membership of a club in the Crawley area. We must make sure that this does not happen and Horsham District Council know this and view any planned removal of Ifield golf course as counter to their need to retain sports opportunities for the population.

 

Kind regards

 

Richard Cowlard

Chairman and Trustee Ifield Golf Club