Plans move step closer to demolish Upminster pitch and putt and build homes

PUBLISHED: 17:22 10 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:22 10 July 2020

Upminster Pitch and Putt, Hall Lane, Upminster. Picture: Google Maps

Upminster Pitch and Putt, Hall Lane, Upminster. Picture: Google Maps

Google Maps

A proposal to bulldoze a pitch and putt in Upminster and build houses on the site moved a step closer after a planning meeting last night.

Members of Havering Council’s strategic planning committee discussed plans for up to 37 homes on the site of Hall Lane Miniature Golf Course.

More than 880 objections were lodged against the proposal, submitted by the council’s housing company Mercury Land Holdings.

But councillors voted to approve outline permission, with all matters reserved except for access, by five votes to three at Thursday’s meeting (July 9).

John Tyler, Linda Van den Hende and Gillian Ford - the three ward councillors for Cranham where the land is located - spoke out in opposition to the proposal.

Cllr Tyler said: “One of the main reasons why the mini golf site should not be turned over to development is that it is a hidden gem and, with nurturing, could be seen as a valuable asset to Havering in a similar way to Langtons Gardens or Raphael Park.

“Thirty-seven houses would not even scratch the surface of Havering’s housing needs. This is not just a patch of open ground, this is a wonderful corner of Havering that should remain accessible for all.”

A meeting report said an illustrative layout of the site plans suggest they could include three, four and five-bed properties.

The proposals would also include public open spaces as well as vehicle access off Hall Lane.

The applicant says 50 per cent affordable housing is “not viable” on the site, instead offering to provide this at a development in Crow Lane, Romford.

An assessment submitted among application documentation concluded that the pitch and putt facility is “loss making”, “not of a high standard” and “not well used”.

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Simon Thelwell, the council’s head of strategic development, told the meeting that around 20 people a day use the pitch and putt when it is open - which the report said is during school holidays between April and October as well as on certain weekends.

Steve Walters, speaking on behalf of the applicant, said: “The golf course is a long-term, underperforming, poor quality facility. It has been demonstrated in a strategic golf needs assessment to have little value as a leisure facility and with very limited potential for enhancement.

“There are many benefits of the proposals - delivering public open space where there is currently only a private, pay-on-entry facility, creating public access where none exists currently and providing new recreation opportunities for the public and young children where none exists currently unless you pay to play golf.

“The proposals deliver much-needed new housing for market and affordable tenures.”

Cllrs Graham Williamson, Reg Whitney and Linda Hawthorn all voted to refuse the outline proposal.

Cllr Hawthorn, who said she had never known such a high number of objections to an application, cited concerns over traffic and infrastructure.

Cllr Williamson said: “This development if anywhere else would be welcome. We would die for such developments in the south (of the borough).

“Green open space should be treated in a similar way as green belt - in other words you protect it. It isn’t brownfield and we should not be willingly building upon it.

“I don’t think the loss or otherwise of the pitch and putt is relevant to protecting this green space. I think it is a deflection from that protection.

“Most of our green space in Havering is solely that - open space is never surplus.”

But Cllrs Timothy Ryan and Keith Darvill suggested the plans would help to address a need for housing, with the former adding: “In the borough we are struggling for large family homes.

“It is nice and pleasing to see that a lot of thought has gone into this design with three, four and five bedroom housing for family people.”

The reserved matters, such as appearance, layout and scale, will need to be submitted to the council within the next three years for approval.

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