Campaigners vow to fight on after golf club vote

Shay Bottomley

Maidenhead Golf Course looks set to be the site of more than 2,000 homes after the golf club voted to relinquish the land to the council on Thursday, September 9.

After weeks of fresh negotiations between the Royal Borough and Maidenhead Golf Club (MGC), members voted 219-43 in favour of accepting a £15.95million offer to leave the site by December 2025.

This provides MGC with an additional two-and-a-half years to relocate to a new home compared to the previous deal signed in June 2016. Under this deal, the golf club were offered £12million with an additional £4.25million had the club left within three years.

There had been discussions prior to Thursday’s extraordinary general meeting over rescinding the original agreement between the golf club and RBWM, while suggestions of compulsory purchase orders had been made by the leader of the council, Andrew Johnson, at a cabinet meeting in May.

Under the Borough Local Plan (BLP), the site, which includes the golf course and land south of Harvest Hill Road, is earmarked for a total of 2,600 homes, 30 per cent of which must be ‘affordable’.

The news comes as a major blow to many who sought to retain the green space at the golf course site, including the 4,448 residents who signed a petition to convert the course into a ‘Maidenhead Great Park’ earlier this year.

A spokesperson for the group said: “We were extremely sad and disappointed to hear that eligible members of Maidenhead Golf Club voted to accept the council’s offer to quit their lease early to make way for 2,000 new flats and houses.”

The group added: “The members were given little choice to give up their 125-year history following threats from our council to Compulsory Purchase them out of their lease.

“We wanted to let all those who have supported our campaign know that we will continue to oppose this damaging, short-sighted plan to build on our precious greenbelt land.

“We plan to organise a series of events and campaigns highlighting the reasons why this development will damage our town and our children’s futures.”

Cllr Geoffrey Hill (tBf, Oldfield) described the decision to build on the golf course as ‘environmental vandalism on a truly massive scale’.

“The borough and the Conservative group held a big gun to golf club members heads in terms of a compulsory purchase order which would have plunged them into a very expensive legal battle,” said Cllr Hill.

“They ended up in a position where it’s either ‘take the money’ or take someone with very substantial resources on in a legal battle that they very possibly would lose.

“This is the last green lung in Maidenhead, with trees that pump out oxygen that we breathe, they suck in the carbon dioxide, and they also suck in all of the pollutants as well.

“I agree with affordable housing, of course I do, but you’re not going to get it on the golf course, so one of the very needs that the cabinet says it wishes to satisfy by building [on the course], they’re just not even going to get close.”

Councillor Andrew Johnson, the council leader, said: “We welcome the positive news regarding the Maidenhead Golf Course site, which will ensure we can bring forward in a timely manner a significant development site for the community, delivering much-needed family homes, including affordable homes, along with community facilities, including a primary school, and green public open space.

“While we can’t comment on matters of commercial confidentiality, we look forward to continuing to work constructively with the board and the club on next steps.”

Maidenhead Golf Club declined to comment on the reasons behind Thursday’s result, but said the meeting had been ‘productive’ and confirmed that the result had been a ‘significant vote in favour’.

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