Global Edition

 

Hillingdon courses need new operators

8.00am 23rd October 2007 - Property

The future of Haste Hill, Ruislip and Uxbridge Golf Courses, which are all owned by the London Borough of Hillingdon, is looking bright. Specialist private sector operators are being invited to submit proposals to LB Hillingdon to develop and operate the three golf courses. A key part of submissions will be each operator’s vision for investment in the three venues and the council is keen to encourage bold and innovative proposals.

The three 18 hole courses are very well established having all been founded before Word War Two. In 1993 the three courses were leased at the height of the golf property market to a golf course operator although certain elements were already leased to other private sector operators. These latter elements were the clubhouse and driving range at Ruislip Golf Centre and the clubhouse at Uxbridge Golf Course.

Whilst in commercial demographic terms the locations of the three courses can be considered prime – west side of London, high local population numbers and above average affluence – the general downturn of UK golf following its peak of the late 1980’s / early 1990’s put an inevitable strain on the golf operator, Middlesex Public Golf Courses Ltd, and in December 2006 it applied for voluntary liquidation.

Expressions of interest required by 2nd November 2007
Early in 2007 LB Hillingdon organised interim management arrangements for the three courses whilst it prepared the way for formal re-tendering. It now wishes to formally re-tender the contract to operate the three courses and is asking for initial expressions of interest from suitably experienced private sector operators by Friday 2nd November 2007. This timetable is with a view to selecting a shortlist to make detailed proposals to the Council a few weeks thereafter and having new long term operational arrangements in place for the spring of next year.

At this stage the council has an open mind on how the courses can be improved for the long term benefit and enjoyment of users. Golf in the UK is evolving with a number of innovative concepts coming to market in recent years such as driving ranges with computer chipped golf balls, state of the art golf academies, shortened courses with the theme ‘golf in an hour‘, PowerPlay Golf etc – all with the idea of bringing new people into the game and widening its appeal. Given that all three golf courses are located in close proximity might one of them be modified so that two more traditional full length 18 hole courses are offered with the other being converted into an ultra modern golf destination or indeed something entirely different?

Of the three venues, the 18 hole course at Ruislip Golf Centre from a golfing perspective is the weakest, and perhaps lends itself most to redevelopment possibilities. Given its outstanding commercial location, being opposite West Ruislip Central Line Tube Station, and with a large area for car parking it could be substantially redeveloped for golf or indeed part of the site might appeal to other ‘cutting edge‘ urban outdoor leisure operators with alternative leisure use ideas.

Cllr Henry Higgins, Cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure at LBH Hillingdon said, “The council has a clear commitment to improve the leisure opportunities we have in Hillingdon and provide state of the art facilities for our residents. We are looking to move this forward in all areas and want to hear from people who share our vision.”

The council is willing to lease the golf courses either individually or as a group on a long term basis commensurate with the amount of investment made by the new operator. It is anticipating interest from golf course / ‘super – range‘ / golf academy operators as well as other urban outdoor leisure operators and possibly certain health and fitness operators. Parties looking to express an interest in submitting a proposal should contact Howard Griffin on 01895 250310 or hgriffin@hillingdon.gov.uk

       

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