Harpenden golf club gets go ahead for new clubhouse

HARPENDEN Common Golf Club has been given the go-ahead to demolish and replace its clubhouse on Green Belt land, against the advice of district council planning officers.

Councillors at a plans north meeting voted five to two in favour of the proposed replacement clubhouse, despite St Albans district council officers saying it should be refused because it would be inappropriate development within the Green Belt.

Officers also pinpointed the height of the two-storey replacement building, its bulk and proximity to neighbouring cottages as having an overbearing impact. They said it would be detrimental to the character and appearance of Harpenden’s conservation area.

The current clubhouse has a changing room, pro shop, committee room and offices.

Planning officers said the main gain from the replacement building would be an additional function room on the first floor, with a terrace, which they did not consider an essential facility for a golf clubhouse.

Although the floorspace of the proposed clubhouse has been reduced, it will still result in a 40 per cent increase over the current floorspace when the area of the external terrace is taken into consideration.

Officers said that increase was not considered small and would be a disproportionate addition over and above the size of the original building.

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There would also be a steeper roof pitch, rising to 35 degrees compared with the current 10 degrees.

Harpenden town council backed the scheme, saying reasons for its previous refusal had been addressed and the district council felt it was appropriate development within the Green Belt and would not result in intensified use of the site.

After the meeting vice-chairman of the committee, Julie Bell, said she voted against the scheme because it was a development on Green Belt.

She added: “I always feel that planning officers know slightly more about these matters than councillors. I felt it wasn’t quite right, but I’m sure the conditions the officers put on the application will make sure the new clubhouse is in keeping with the area.”

Fellow Harpenden councillor John Chambers said he was surprised it was approved, given that it was a two-storey building.

A spokeswoman for the club, located to the south of Cravells Road on East Common, said members were looking forward to the new clubhouse being built and that the facility would be of benefit to locals and golf players.