A GOLF course located off one of North East Lincolnshire’s most desirable streets could be sold off for housing as part of a long-term plan for a sports club’s future.
The freehold for Humberston Country Club is on the market, at just over £2.4-million, and the potential for redeveloping the nine-hole course is being highlighted to would-be investors.
But chartered surveyor Lawrence Brown, pictured, believes that the long-term plan wouldn’t mean houses “this time next year”.
Virgin Active has taken over the lease for the sports facility, having bought out fellow national operator Esporta in a £77-million deal in April. But plans for taking golf forward are not concrete, with the tennis and fitness facilities believed to be more in keeping with Sir Richard Branson’s existing portfolio.
The freehold was put on the market this month, with London-based Whitmarsh Holt Young instructed to market the 36.5-acres on behalf of current owner Standard Life Investments.
Details now being circulated underline the potential for the 18-year-old course, with lake, highlighting house prices on Humberston Avenue as a clear incentive, with space for hundreds of homes, subject to planning. They state that both Virgin and Standard Life have agreed the 32-acre course is surplus to requirements going forward, with an agreement in place for the landlord and tenant to share profits from any sale. While any move would be mid-to-long term, it could follow the loss of the nearby Humberston Park Golf Club, and comes as a major housing proposal has been recently revealed across the road.
A planning application for Keystone Developments’ 400-home scheme, featuring a retirement village and affordable housing, is believed to be imminent.
David Holt, a partner with Whitmarsh Holt Young, said: “The likelihood is we will get a passive investor who will buy the Virgin income for 17 years, and sit and do nothing with it. It is an attractive deal because there is a lot of land with it. This is just a selling point illustrating what could happen some time in the future. I don’t imagine anything happening soon.”
It is understood there are just under 100 golfing members, and that they are in discussion with Virgin over future membership charges, having initially been asked to pay the club’s full rate.
Virgin has confirmed to the Telegraph that there are, as yet, no definite plans for the future of golf. Another possibility is a third party taking on the golfing aspect.
A major rent review for the facility is looming, in 2013, which would impact on profitability for Virgin if the current position remains. Charges, currently waived in an 18-month window following the buy-out of Esporta, are expected to increase from £175,000 a year to at least £224,000, a near £50,000 uplift.
Chartered surveyor Lawrence Brown, of Scotts in Grimsby, said: “It is a corporate disposal by a pension fund which is clearly part of their ongoing strategy. They will be buying and selling property every day of the week and there is nothing untoward in this.
“Then there is the piece of land at the rear. It is very early in the process but there is always pressure in North East Lincolnshire for quality housing. The 400-home proposal opposite gives an indication of the emotive nature attracted to residential development. We won’t see houses this time next year; it is certainly a long-term strategy.”