Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Two views from Stonehaven golf course. On right the 18th green, Stonehaven Bay and the field where a new clubhouse could be built. Below the 17th green.

Stonehaven GC land-swap

deal with Stewart Milne

Homes on the cards

Stonehaven Golf Club, one of the oldest in Scotland, is considering selling part of its course in a land-swap deal with a major house developer.
Talks have been going on for some months between the 120-year-old golf club and Stewart Milne Homes.
SMH hold a development option on a 20-acre field to the south of the present golf clubhouse and the company wants to exchange that land for part of the existing golf course.
The talks have been going on in strict confidence but came into the public domain only recently when SMH lodged a document with Aberdeenshire Council’s planning department, indicating the company’s desire to build houses not only on the golf course land but also on the Mains of Cowie Farm.
This would be the first significant housing development to the north of Stonehaven and SMH wants it included in the council’s Local Plan which is being compiled at present and will run from 2011.
Harry Roulston, pictured above by Cal Carson Golf Agency, captain of Stonehaven Golf Club, confirmed that the club knew of the SMH submission to the council.
“For many years, the club has been interested in acquiring the field to the south of our course,” he said. “But the Cowie Estates, who own the field, were never able to reach agreement with their tenant farmer.
“Now, however, Stewart Milne Homes hold a development option on the entire farm, including the field we are interested in, which is why we started talking with them some months ago. It is very unlikely that they would ever get permission to build houses there as it is zoned for recreational use but they feel they could get permission to build on our land on the west side of the railway line.
“We have four holes there – 9, 10, 11 and 12 – and our plan would be to swap that area for the Mains of Cowie field, with a substantial cash balance to the club.
“That would enable us to build a new clubhouse, with the best of facilities for our members and visitors. It would be much nearer town than our present clubhouse, which would give us the ability to attract more local people, including other clubs and organisations, to our clubhouse to enjoy its facilities.
“It would also make our course a true clifftop course because holes nine to 12 at present are somewhat out of character with the rest of the course.
“We are taking advice on a re-design of the course from one of the leading designers in Scotland and he is currently in the process of drafting possibilities for a new-look course.”
Mr Roulston added: “I would stress that nothing at all has been decided or finalised. Our members have been informed in general terms about what is going on and, under our constitution, nothing can be done until our members are fully informed and until they actually approve it with a vote.
“All the club council is doing at present is looking at sensible plans for the future. Our club is having a tough time at present financially, like all golf clubs, and it is vital for our future that we improve what we have to offer members and visitors.
“We’ve been playing golf on the Braes of Cowie since 1888 and we want to continue doing that for several more generations ahead.
“Our current clubhouse sits on a magnificent site but it is old-fashioned in many ways and needs a total revamp, which is very difficult to do on that site. We believe our best option is to build a new clubhouse nearer the town, which would still have the superb views and would also have the most modern facilities for our members and visitors and be more accessible from town.”



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