This Essex golf club is building a retirement home by its course to increase revenues
An Essex golf club has found a radical way to safeguard its financial future – it is building a retirement home by its course.
Noak Hill Golf Course in Billericay will use the money made from building the three gated bungalows to fund a specialist golf school for children and make a series of improvements to the course and clubhouse.
The three two-bedroom homes will form an ‘independent retirement community’, said a spokesman, although there have been local concerns because they will be built on greenbelt land.
Basildon Council refused planning permission for the work, which will see barns, stables and sheds demolished to make room for the buildings, but a government planning inspector has overruled the decision.
The golf club’s owners, Terence and Linda McDowell, plan to use the money from the sale of the bungalows to fund a golf school for youngsters, which would be used by schools during term time and would host activity sessions during school holidays.
They also want to build new changing rooms and toilets, improve parking facilities and upgrade the course.
The club originally wanted to build 17 homes.
Planning inspector Chris Tivey passed the appeal because part of the site had already been built on to make way for the golf club.
He said: “I have found the proposal not to be inappropriate development.
“There would be no harm to the character and appearance of the area.”
Kevin Blake, Basildon councillor responsible for leisure and arts, condemned the planning inspectorate for allowing the scheme to go ahead.
He said: “This is not what greenbelt land is there for. We have been protecting greenbelt land for years and now we are being told we are going to have to start building on some of it, but we need to be very selective about that.
“If I had my way we wouldn’t build on any.
“I hope the owners make the best of it and I hope the business is a success. It’s great to have a thriving business and if they are going to be helping young people we have got to make a good thing out of a bad situation.”