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Building on the fairway

What golf courses have to do with the housing crisis
Building on the fairway

It’s a wonder how any land gets earmarked for a pursuit as unnecessarily expansive as golf. In a city as cramped as London, it’s hard to imagine a less utilitarian use of space than a fairway.

Yet while the capital occupies 0.65 per cent of the UK’s total landmass, it is home to more than 1 in 20 of the country’s golf courses. Sandwich together London’s 94 active courses, 43 of which are in public hands, and you get an area larger than the borough of Brent. This all-golf district wouldn’t be very busy, mind: even at maximum capacity, there would be room for just 2,729 players at a time.

These are some of the findings in The Golf Belt, a recent study of London’s land use by architect (and non-golfer) Russell Curtis. He argues that many London courses’ claims to Metropolitan Open Land status – and protection from development – are erroneous and that councils should consider alternative uses, starting with housing.

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