Architect defends ‘provocative’ housing plans for Enfield Golf Club

Founding director of RCKa tells Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter, that building homes on golf courses could be a way to ease Enfield’s housing crisis

Aerial view of the proposed new homes at Enfield Golf Club (credit RCKa)
Aerial view of the proposed new homes at Enfield Golf Club (credit RCKa)

An architectural firm has revealed plans to build hundreds of affordable homes on an Enfield golf course – which it says can help tackle the borough’s housing crisis.

Shoreditch-based RCKa’s proposals would see around 650 homes built in “low-to mid-rise villa blocks” at Enfield Golf Club, which leases its 18-hole course in Old Park Road South from Enfield Council.

Under the speculative plans – part of a project dubbed ‘Holes to Homes’ – the 39-hectare course would be reduced to nine holes to make way for the new housing development, plus walking and cycle routes, wetlands, and facilities such as a health centre, gym and mobility hub.

However, RCKa has not submitted a planning application for the site.

The current version of the council’s draft Local Plan, published in 2021, sets an overall target of 25,000 homes and does not include any allocation at Enfield Golf Club. As reported by the Dispatch yesterday (Thursday 2nd), a revised version of the council’s draft Local Plan is now set to increase the borough-wide target to 35,000 new homes, to be built by 2041, and will be published next month.

The course at Enfield Golf Club is classed as Metropolitan Open Land,  effectively giving it the same level of protection from ‘inappropriate’ development as the Green Belt under London-wide policies.

The council has indicated it will allocate more than 9,000 homes on Green Belt land in its revised Local Plan by de-designating several large sites – including land at Crews Hill Golf Club, one of six borough golf courses.

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Russell Curtis, a founding director of RCKa, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the firm’s “indicative” scheme to provide 100% affordable housing in blocks “no taller than maybe six or eight storeys” could help to tackle the borough’s acute housing shortage.

He said: “Enfield has a profound problem with homelessness at the moment, and it is costing them [the council] a fortune. Is that fair when it also has six golf courses?

“We already know Enfield [Council] is proposing taking out large areas of Green Belt in the Local Plan. That has been extremely controversial. Perhaps this is a way of mitigating some of that loss.

“Crews Hill Golf Course was targeted in the Local Plan. But if Enfield can justify taking out huge areas of Green Belt, perhaps there is also a route here that we might be able to justify a reduction in Green Belt loss with this degree of building.”

Russell said the bigger barrier to development was the Metropolitan Open Land classification, and he suggested this should be reviewed under the next version of the London Plan, to open up golf courses to potential development.

He explained that RCKa had designed the homes to be built on fairways and putting greens, which are “fairly monocultural” and had “left all the trees and created a new biodiverse wetland down Salmons Brook, which runs through the green”.

Admitting the proposals were “deliberately provocative”, Russell said the firm wanted to ask questions about the equitable use of space, with London’s golf courses taking up an area the size of the borough of Brent, yet only able to be used by a limited number of people at the same time.

He said he had been surprised by the number of golfers who had written to him “who also think there are probably too many golf courses in London”.

“A lot of people don’t have time to spend hours and hours playing on huge courses,” he added. “Nine-hole courses are quite attractive for some people, and there are half-a-dozen courses within a five to ten-minute drive. There is not a shortage of places to play.”

Enfield Council and Enfield Golf Club declined to comment on the proposals.

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