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As discussed in Part 1 ‘Golf course redevelopment or diversification‘, variable factors and influences are leading to the closure of golf courses across Britain for alternative uses or their diversification to ensure they remain viable in the current and foreseeable economic landscape.

Planning Policy context

Achieving an alternative or diversified use requires careful consideration of the associated planning policy context applicable to your golf course, in order to achieve the desired planning permission.

Local development plan

The planning policy context includes the local development plan of the associated local authority and other material considerations.

The local development plan comprises a series of adopted documents, including a local plan, which set out policies on what development will and won’t be permitted. Local plans outline the strategic priorities for development of housing, commercial, recreation, community, public and private development, including transport infrastructure, along with protection for the local environment.

Planning policy issues

Golf courses will typically fall outside the built-up area boundaries of settlements contained within each local authority. Falling outside of the built-up boundary will result in the golf courses being categorised as countryside, with reduced development opportunities within the local development plan.

Additional policy constraints may include environmental, green belt, hydrological, archaeological, historic, gap or other designations. These designations may further limit the development opportunities for the golf course.
The associated development plan may include a specific planning policy for golf course development or may allocate the golf course as part of a special policy area which would significantly improve the development opportunities.
As experienced planning consultants we will be able review the associated local development plan documentation and outline what development options are applicable to your golf course.

Local plan process

Each local authority is required to prepare a local plan, which as discussed, outlines the strategic priorities for development within the local authority’s boundary. Once adopted these local plans dictate what development will and won’t be permitted at any one location within the local authority’s boundary for the next 15 to 30 years.

During the preparation of a local plan, the local authority is required under legislation to publicly engage with the local community to seek their views about the type and form of development they desire to be incorporated into the local plan.

This is an opportunity to make representations to the local authority at the various stages of the plans preparation. These representations may be to promote your golf course site for an alternative use (e.g. housing, sangs – suitable alternative natural green space, employment or other), request a specific policy for golf courses which would enable a diversified use or appropriate wording to be included to enable an alternative uses to be considered in the future, if the golf course were to become unviable.

As discussed in a previous blog, local authorities will undertake a Call for Sites and broad locations for potential development, under a ‘call for sites’ consultation. The purpose of the call for sites consultation is for each local authority to meet their emerging housing and employment (retail, leisure, cultural, office, community, warehouse etc.) requirements. The call for sites consultation is an early opportunity for individuals, landowners, developers and other interested parties to submit their sites or broad locations to their local authority, for potential development.

Failure to engage with the local authority when these windows of opportunity are open would be a missed opportunity to seek the desired development on your golf course, until such a time when the local authority were to consider a replacement local plan 15 to 30 years down the line.

As experienced planning consultants we will be able prepare, submit and liaise with your local authority to promote your golf course for an alternative or diversified use.

There are opportunities to challenge adopted local development plans which currently restrict your desired alternative or diversified use. We would be able to advise accordingly following a review of the associated local development plan documentation and recent case law.

Further information

If you are in the position of looking to develop golf course land and you would like to discuss this issue further please contact a member of our experienced planning team.