Royal Norwich Golf Club bosses planning for three more years at Hellesdon site
11:07 07 November 2014
It has been nearly nine months since Royal Norwich Golf Club announced plans to relocate to nearby Weston Park.
The scheme involves selling the club’s land at Hellesdon for a housing development and using the proceeds to create a new course on the Weston Park site which officials are confident will bear comparison with any existing lay-out in Norfolk.
Work has been going on behind the scenes ever since the news first broke – and if planning permission is forthcoming the project should reach its fruition in three years time, with the current Royal Norwich course closing down towards the end of 2017. Here Royal Norwich general manager Phil Grice gives an update on the multi-million pound project.
Q When is Royal Norwich Golf Club likely to relocate to Weston Park?
A “Royal Norwich will be open at the current site until at least late 2017. It is hoped that we will be in a position to submit our planning application by spring 2015. If everything goes to plan it is possible we may have a decision back as early as autumn 2015, which would then potentially allow us to start redeveloping the Weston Park site.”
Q What has the mood around the club been like since the plans to relocate to Weston Park were announced?
A “Members voted overwhelmingly to relocate (81% in favour) but it has been difficult six months, dealing with all the legal contracts that need to be formalised, as well as establishing proper procedures and a criteria to ensure we make the right professional appointments. It has meant a huge amount of background work has had to happen to establish a solid bedrock of industry experts to ensure we can deliver our aims and aspirations. A recent comprehensive report was released to the members updating them on our position and we intend to hold a further set of members’ forums to help bring everyone right up to date.”
Q What will happen to members of both clubs over the next few years?
A “Nothing will change for Royal Norwich members until late 2017 and Weston Park members will be invited to join us here once planning permission is granted. It will be business as usual here at Royal Norwich until late 2017.”
Q Will the course and facilities be maintained to their current standards during this time?
A “Anyone who plays here will see that the course has never been in better condition. It is our intention that the facilities and course will continue to be of the highest standard.”
Q Will you be losing any land before you relocate?
A “We have to give up a small part of the current course but we have already built two holes in anticipation of this. We will remain an 18-hole course until we relocate. The new holes, greens and tees have been professionally designed and constructed. They have been specifically designed with similar seed and soils to ensure they complement the existing holes.”
Q When Weston Park members are invited to join, will the course be able to cope?
A “If we combine every single member from both clubs, it would not total the amount of members that most other clubs currently operate with. It has never been a policy for either club to pack the course out, seven days a week. Therefore there is ample room to accommodate both sets of members and welcome new ones.”
Q Is there anything you can tell us about the new course and facilities at this point?
A “We have appointed architects, quantity surveyors and project managers for both the clubhouse and the course. There has already been over six months of planning and development work as well as every kind of survey you can imagine. We have had back from European Golf Design an initial routing for all 27 holes and the practice facilities including putting greens, chipping areas and 300m practice range. The initial routing should hopefully be signed off in the next few days which will allow us to progress to the detailed planning stages.”