Sun, 20 Jan 2019
PLANS to build a 21-bedroom hotel and 18 new homes at Bishopswood Golf Course in Baughurst have been refused.
The proposed scheme comprised seven three-bed houses, two three-bedroom bungalows, three four-bed houses and six five-bedroom houses, with associated parking and landscaping.
According to the planning statement, produced by Bell Cornwell Chartered Town Planners, the construction of these 18 houses on the south-western corner of the golf course would have provided the funds for the hotel development.
It added: “The money generated from the golf alone is insufficient to sustain the golf club and, while the club does generate income through other means (mainly conference events), alternative revenue streams have to be explored to diversify the site and attract non-golf customers.”
Of the 18 proposed dwellings, none were ‘affordable’.
This became a major issue with councillors on Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s development control committee when they met to discuss the application last Wednesday.
On the whole, councillors supported the hotel – but not the housing part of the application..
One of the applicants, Nick Cobbold, said: “Social housing is aimed at ensuring that development undertaken for profit make a contribution for society which keeps a lid on developer profit. This is a not-for-profit proposal.
“If you want affordable housing to be provided on site then another 40 per cent of houses will have to be provided – so another eight houses. There is no space for that.”
Nicholas Robinson (Con, Bramley and Sherfield) said: “If there is no space for it, contribute to off-site affordable housing.”
Mr Robinson also queried the statement of being a not-for-profit proposal and asked what the market value of the hotel would be once it was built.
He said: “As I see this, at the end of the build you will own a hotel which has got several million pounds value.
“I see several million pounds of profit. I see a whole hotel of profit.”
Mr Cobbold replied: “We haven’t looked at the value of the hotel for the simple reason that that hasn’t entered our thoughts.
“The proposal in front of you is for the long-term future of the golf club.
“It’s not to provide an asset value or anything like that, it is solely with the view to keeping the gold club open, keeping it operating with a business model that works, so to be honest it would be wrong of us to start looking at figures at the increasing value of the site as that isn’t the intention.”
Councillor Paul Harvey (Lab, Norden) questioned whether, without knowing the market value, the viability report could be accurate enough to determine whether the hotel could support the business.
He also questioned whether the golf club should be considered as a commercial business or a community asset.
He said: “We are not dealing with a communtiy facility. That is clear.
“If we were dealing with a community facility we would have agreements in place where members of the wider community through public good would be able to access the facility and use it as such.
“They don’t, those agreements are not in place. Therefore we are dealing with a private enterprise.”
Councillor Michael Bound (Lib Dem, Baughurst and Tadley North) added: “It does not include any affordable housing and as far as I’m concerned that is a non-starter.
“We have a policy in the borough of 40 per cent affordable housing. It is negotiable, but they haven’t even come forward with any affordable housing.
“The housing mix doesn’t match with the housing mix which is required in Tadley either.
“For that reason, I cannot support this application.”
The only councillor in favour was Ken Rhatigan (Con, Kingsclere), who declared an interest of pre-determination as he had already made his mind up before the debate.
He therefore spoke as a visiting councillor to the committee.
Mr Rhatigan said: “I’m not trying to shoe-horn this into the local plan by saying this works, but the reality is that this is a one-off.”
He added: “The number of houses on this development is the minimum needed to provide the capital to build the hotel.
“It is in the support of an ongoing community facility at the golf club.
“If this was a community centre in Norden or Buckskin, and they were building houses to support a community project you would be mannning the barricades to have this approved.”
He added that the golf course was “the heart of the community” for the hundreds of people who use it as their leisure facility.
The council received many letters in support of the application.
However, objections were received from Tadley Town Council and Baughurst Parish Council.
In its objection to the scheme, Tadley Town Council wrote: “Tadley residents need one- and two-bed homes, not executive homes.
“The site should also be 40 per cent affordable homes.”