Wednesday, September 28, 2016

News: Land deal on the cards for Rotherham golf academy

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Rotherham Council is preparing to sell off its land to a golf academy that attracts a number of the sport's top players to the borough.

Peter Cowen is recognised as one of the world's elite teaching professionals and is based at an academy at Kimberworth. He has coached the likes of Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood, Paul McGinley, David Howell, Henrik Stenson and Danny Willett.

The Rotherham Golf Academy (RGA) leases land at Grange Park from the Council in order to operate a golf driving range business. Cowen says that he has invested some £17m in the facility over the years and it now includes a driving range and bays, pitching facility, mini golf putting course and a clubhouse and pro shop. Four professionals are employed, teaching members of the public and working to get juniors playing golf.

A report to Rotherham Council shows that the RGA has asked to purchase the site on a number of occasions between 2007 and 2015 but each of these has been refused. Paying a rent of £15,000 pa, there was a request in 2012 to change the terms of the lease as RGA felt they were limiting business growth.

A deal is now close to being concluded that would see the land sold to the academy after RGA set out the reputational benefits of retaining the business in Rotherham and elements of the potential economic, community and environmental benefits.

Approval for the deal is being sought from Commissioner Julie Kenny with the prospect of the business failing and the Borough losing a well-respected golfing operation if the lease remains as it is.

The asset has been valued at £125,000 by the Council based on the rental income being capitalised. An independent valuation prepared by the District Valuer had the value at between £250,000 and £300,000 based on comparable evidence of land transactions of golfing facilities throughout the region, and applied a rate per acre.

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The council report reads: "As a result of ongoing discussions between the Council and RGA a sale of the freehold interest has been considered with a minimum value assessed by the Council as being £167,000. A revised counter offer was made by RGA to purchase the freehold interest for £150,000, subject to full settlement of outstanding rent and business rate arrears, and with robust claw-back provisions to protect the Council's long term interests. The clawback will be negotiated and initially aim to seek 25 year term on 80% of the uplift in value in the Council's favour."

The property has been the target of vandals and suffered break-ins on numerous occasions. A new threat is the prospect of a nearby tip re-opening. Grange Landfill Ltd has been granted a permit by the Environment Agency to take in up to 200,000 tonnes of waste per year.

Rotherham Golf Academy website

Images: Rotherham Golf Academy


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