An application to extend Headley Golf Club to build an extension to create the new tourist accommodation has been submitted to Bradford Council
It says that as well as providing a new tourist facility in an area where there are few hotels, the work will help secure the golf club’s future in light of the “declining popularity” of the sport.
The club, off Headley Lane, is located in the green belt around a mile away from Thornton Village – the birthplace of the world famous Brontë Sisters.
The golf club dates back to 1907, but the current clubhouse was built in the 1980s. In 2015 it was extended to create a new function room. The new plans would see a further two-storey extension added to the building, with 12 hotel rooms on each floor.
It would create an extra eight jobs according to the application.
Submitted by the golf club, the planning application says: “The popularity of golf has unfortunately declined in recent years, along with income from members. This situation has led to a lot of hard decisions to ensure a cash flow future for the club.
“Previous attempts to revive finances of the club have helped balance the books and keep things ticking over, however, it has become apparent that further intervention is required.”
It says the function room has been a “lifeline” for the club since it opened, and the hotel would further protect the club’s future, as well as creating local jobs.
It says that although the site is in the green belt, the new hotel would help secure an existing leisure business – and this could be classed as the “exceptional circumstances” needed to overcome normal green belt policy that prevents building in such areas.
The application adds: “The harm through loss of openness is considered to be outweighed by the long term success of the club in continuing to provide outdoor leisure facilities and maintain the course – which is an asset to the local area.”
The club said the initial plan would have seen an extra storey built on the top of the club building – but this was scrapped over concerns that this work would make the building more conspicuous in its green belt location.
The club currently has 135 parking spaces at the site – and the hotel extension will reduce parking by 35 spaces. However, the club says the car park is rarely close to being full – even during events.
Making the case for hotel space in this area of the district, the application says guests attending events at the function room often struggle to find overnight accommodation.
It adds: “Despite Thornton village and its association with the Brontës being an important part of the tourism industry in Bradford, there is little or no overnight accommodation available in the area.”
Although Haworth is recognised as the home of the Brontë family, the literary sisters were actually born in Thornton – in an unassuming property on Market Street that the family lived in at the time.
The village has become popular with fans of the authors, and is on several Brontë trails. A decision on the planning application is expected next month.