Verulam Golf Club offering to give adjacent land for housing

The entrance to Verulam Golf Club

The entrance to Verulam Golf Club - Credit: Archant

Could the St Albans-based ‘Home of the Ryder Cup’ provide land for housing in future?

It has been revealed that Verulam Golf Club in London Road has been pushing to build 75 homes on land it owns alongside its par 72 course.

Those hopes have been made public through representations by Boyer Planning on behalf of Beechwood Homes, in response to St Albans district council’s draft Strategic Local Plan (SLP).

At a recent planning committee meeting, a report showed that Beechwood, representing Verulam Golf Club land interests, favoured the suggested removal of land from the Green Belt for 4,000 new homes across the district.

It said that exceptional circumstances existed to justify such development, because of a pressing housing need.

However, despite the club signalling that 75 homes could be built on land abutting the course, the council has rejected its call to include it in its SLP.

Robin Farrer, general manager of Verulam Golf Club, told the Herts Advertiser that the organisation owns two plots of overgrown land adjoining its manicured course, famous for its connections with Samuel Ryder.

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The “derelict” land has been promoted for possible housing by the club’s agents, Beechwood Homes, which has an option to develop them.

Robin said that talks held between Beechwood and the council had failed to result “in a way forward”.

No scheme has been submitted to the authority but, in its response to the council which is still finalising its planning blueprint, Beechwood said that the club’s land has been “promoted for residential development for a number of years” and called for it to be released from the Green Belt.

The developer criticised the council’s plan to open up large tracts of land at Oaklands College, north west of Harpenden and east of Hemel Hempstead as “flawed” in respect to the scale, distribution and location of the potential strategic housing sites.

The firm warned against relying upon such tracts as they “frequently suffer from viability constraints where the infrastructure requirements and site servicing costs when assessed against forecast revenue render the site unviable.”

Instead, it suggests the council increases the number of smaller sites for future development “to minimise the risks … in the event that the proposed major development to the east of Hemel Hempstead cannot be delivered”.

Beechwood added: “Land at Verulam Golf Club provides a sustainable location for residential development and is suitable for release from the Green Belt.”

The company supports planning firm Barton Willmore’s recommendation that at least 22,370 homes are planned across St Albans over the 2011-2031 period, equating to 1,119 houses annually.

The council wants 444 homes built per year over the next two decades.