Bridlington Golf Club sold - but at what price?

Bridlington Golf Club is celebrating after acquiring the freehold of a 118-acre golf course from East Riding Council.

Bridlington Golf course, looking from seafront on Belvedere Road. Picture by Paul Atkinson

The council confirmed today that contracts had been exchanged in what has proved a controversial deal for the land off Belvedere Road.

But opinion is divided over whether it is a good deal for taxpayers, with ward councillor David Robson insisting that the land is significantly undervalued, and concerned it will eventually be developed.

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He said today he had been told it was sold for "much less than £1m", adding: "How come 30 years ago we were offered £7m to £8m for the golf course yet we are selling it off for less than £1m?"

Councillor David Robson: "From the electorate's point of view it is completely wrong. "It is a valuable asset and we should never be selling it."

The story hit the headlines in March after minutes from the club dating to 2014 were revealed, stating that the club was going to be sold the freehold for £750,000.

It would then sell the 16th hole to a developer for £1.65m, who would build 22 houses and a hotel to give the club a new income stream.

East Riding Council said the move would help secure the future of the club and the hotel would mean private sector investment in the town "supporting the construction industry and creating many new jobs."

The council will not release the price, saying it is "commercially sensitive", but says the district valuer has concluded that what has been agreed is “fair, reasonable and best value”.

Its external auditor "was also satisfied that the council was obtaining best value for the land."

In a statement Alan Menzies, director of planning and economic regeneration, said: “The sale of this land to Bridlington Golf Club helps secure the future of this historic club within the town and also means the council secures a capital receipt that will go back into the authority’s budget for future capital works.

“The sale of land and buildings that are surplus to the council’s operational requirements or that could benefit local communities is a daily undertaking for the authority, with our valuations and estates office handling over 750 property transactions in 2017/18, including sales, purchases, licences, tenancies and rent reviews.

“Contracts have now been exchanged but the sale will only be completed upon completion of the club’s new hotel, which secured planning permission during the summer.”

A leaked email to golf club members said it was "at last the good news we have all been waiting for" and inviting them to celebrate with a glass of “bubbly."

It said: "Ashcourt are now fully committed to getting the Hotel built and operational as soon as possible and as I write this e-mail they are already making preparations to start commencing work from next week.

"They hope to have the shell of the Hotel completed (weather permitting) by Valentine’s day 2019.

"Inevitably there will be some disruption during the building of the Hotel and Ashcourt have reassured us that any disruption will be kept to a minimum."

Coun Robson said: "What concerns me is that the golf club members themselves will ultimately own the golf course.

"If they sell it on develop it for any other purpose - for glamping, as a caravan site or put it in for a housing allocation - they would be the net beneficiaries.

"From the electorate's point of view it is completely wrong.

"It is a valuable asset and we should never be selling it. If anyone is going to benefit from it, it should be the electorate."

Responding to Councillor Robson's remarks East Riding Council said: "For the avoidance of doubt, the intention of the council and Bridlington Golf Club is that the the golf course land will remain as a golf course, with a hotel and appropriate ancillary leisure facilities in perpetuity and the contract between the two parties imposes an appropriate restrictive covenant.

"The contract also includes clawback provisions which means that, should there ever be a future change of use, the council will receive a fair share of the uplift in value."

In a statement Mike Smith, chairman of Bridlington Golf Club, said “I am delighted that the contracts have been exchanged.

"This is a momentous time in the history of Bridlington Golf Club and secures its future.

“We will continue to promote “golf for all” in Bridlington and the surrounding area and also strive to attract more visiting golfers to the area, particularly when our new hotel accommodation is operational.”