Golf Course Update

At the meeting held last Friday, the Parish Council relayed a perception amongst the public that lack of progress on the golf course was due to a longer term aspiration to pursue a residential development on the site.

I am pleased to be able to have this opportunity to publicly dispel such a rumour. We are as frustrated as residents with the lack of progress on completing a golf course. It may help to set out a short chronology of events to explain the delays.  

The original planning application was submitted in 1991 but the consent was not granted until June 1997. Our company, Belview Golf Ltd did not acquire the site until October 2003. We started applying for reserved matters approval in 2005 and we discharged the pre-commencement conditions between October 2005 and March 2008. Work started in 2008 with the required off site works on London Road, including the realignment of the road to remove the dangerous bend as well as improvements to the footpaths. These works were completed in 2009.  We then went on to construct the internal access road, the car park to sub base level and the shell of the greenkeepers house and the greenkeepers shed over a period between 2010 and 2012. 

The drought and associated hosepipe ban in 2012 led to a realisation that, to be sustainable, a golf course cannot rely upon mains water and we were forced to redesign the course and landscaping to be able to harvest rainwater. The process in gaining regulatory approval for these engineering works has been a very protracted process. It started in 2012 and there was conflicting information as to whether the planning application would be dealt with by Hertfordshire County Council or East Hertfordshire District Council. Initially, the County Council claimed jurisdiction and refused two applications before, finally, East Hertfordshire District Council accepted that it should be the determining authority. 

We therefore applied to the District Council for the necessary engineering works in the summer of 2017 and although the application was recommended for approval by the planning officer, it was subsequently refused by members of the planning committee. Consequently, we were therefore forced to appeal which I am pleased to say was allowed, in May this year following the public inquiry. I hope that you will appreciate that the lack of progress is nothing to do with any alternative residential aspirations  but due to our determination to ensure that our golf course can be self-sufficient in water for irrigation and the area’s drinking water is not used to water the golf course. This has been an incredibly frustrating process, which you will appreciate has cost a very significant amount of money to reach this position where we are now confident be able to move forward. 

Following May’s appeal decision we are currently in the process of discharging the pre-commencement conditions and are confident the work will recommence on site in 2020 with the seeding of the Eastern Field, nearest the village next year with the Western Filed being seeded in the next season in 2021, with completion of the golf course and its opening to the public, expected in 2022/3. 

I hope by sharing this information with you, it explains the reasons for the recent absence of progress on site and you can provide reassurance that the delays are no reflection of a lack of our commitment to construct this public pay and play golf course. 

Finally, I would add that the likelihood of the golf course being converted into a housing estate is frankly laughable. This site is an important part of the Green Belt and performs a key role in separating Hertford from Hertford Heath. There is now the certainty of a recently adopted East Hertfordshire Local Plan that has made all the strategic housing allocations it needs to secure the appropriate level of housing in the district.  

The 2019 National Planning Policy Framework reinforces the Government’s commitment to maintaining the Green Belt. Housing development in such a location would be completely contrary to both national and local planning policy. In short – it would be a complete nonstarter.  

In conclusion, I am pleased to put on record that the rumour regarding any residential ambitions regarding this land are entirely false and as a company we remain committed to completing and opening the golf course in the next few years. 

John Rubino - Belview Golf

December 2019
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