Hertsmere Leisure Trust, which manages Hertsmere Borough Council’s leisure contract, has ended its arrangement to operate Bushey Country Club and the facility was closed on 1 April 2018.
Understandably, there has been a lot of public interest and the council is working to decide what best to do with the site, both in the short and longer term. However, despite rumours, the council has not sold the site and there is no planning application submitted to build houses.
In 2012 Hertsmere Leisure was awarded the contract to manage our leisure services across the borough. Before then, Bushey Country Club was managed by Bushey Golf Club Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the council. Bushey Country Club was operating at a significant financial loss before the leisure contract was awarded and has continued to do so since, whilst other leisure facilities in Hertsmere have performed much better. We did seek operators to take over the facility but there was a poor response because of a declining trend in golf users and the significant competition for fitness facilities.
The financial losses at Bushey Country Club became unsustainable for Hertsmere Leisure, leading them to give the council notice to end its operating arrangement.
Hertsmere Leisure worked with the Country Club's previous users to find alternative provision and is bringing forward investment proposals at nearby Bushey Grove, such as extending gym facilities and creating some community space.
Security and site protection measures have been put in place to prevent unauthorised access to the site. We are also using a ‘property guardian’ company to secure and maintain the vacant buildings. This arrangement sees the property being lived in by guardians, who are working professionals, meaning that it remains occupied, secure and managed.
Golf course and driving range:
The golf course and driving range closed from 1 April but arrangements have been put in place to ensure the on-going maintenance of the grounds so that the open space remains presentable and in good order until the future use of the site has been determined. These include grass cutting; hedge trimming and shrub maintenance; weed control and a weekly litter pick. In the short term there will be no general public access to the grounds permitted. If it is determined at a future date that the grounds are to be open to the public, then an appropriate level of maintenance and management of the site will be undertaken to ensure safe and secure community access.
The council's Executive has agreed to keep the community centre open until the longer term future of the site has been agreed. Hertsmere Leisure has contacted all regular hirers of the community centre to allow them to express interest in re-booking the facility if they wish. As Bushey Country Club is now closed, all bookings are now being administered from Bushey Grove. Anyone interested in hiring the Bushey Community Centre can contact Sharon McDermott at Bushey Grove via email firstname.lastname@example.org
To ensure the on-going use of the car park, we are looking at introducing a parking enforcement regime. It is proposed that charges would be in line with the costs at the other council car parks in Bushey but allowing users of the community centre free parking for two hours.
Country Club – café, function facilities, gym etc:
The country club and facilities closed from 1 April. Options for fitness users are being offered by Bushey Grove Leisure Centre which is 1.5 miles away.
We will update this page with further information about the interim arrangements for the site and the longer term plan as decisions are taken.
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Here are the press releases we have issued so far:
Interim measures to keep Bushey Country Club site secure
More decisions taken to secure the future of the Bushey Country Club site
Agreement to keep community centre open for time being
We have received a number of frequently asked questions, including:
How do I go about expressing interest in acquiring or developing the site?
No decisions have been taken about the future of the site and we will look to consult with stakeholders and residents in due course about any proposals. In the meantime, our Asset Management team will maintain a database with details of any expressions of interest so please contact them with your details. Their email is email@example.com
I have an idea about how the site could be used in the longer term. Who do I contact?
Councillor Paul Morris OBE, who is an elected member representing Bushey Heath ward, can be contacted.
I am a member at Bushey Country Club, what should I do?
Hertsmere Leisure plans to operate the facilities as normal until the end of March 2018. All current memberships will be honoured to this point and refunds for pro-rata memberships after this point will be refunded by Hertsmere Leisure. Discounted options for fitness users are being offered at Bushey Grove. Please contact Hertsmere Leisure if you need to discuss a refund or your membership. Their email is firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01727 744250.
I have a booking at the Bushey Country Club – what should I do?
Hertsmere Leisure has been proactively contacting people who have made bookings to make them aware of the announcement to close. Please contact Hertsmere Leisure if you need to discuss a pre-existing booking. Their email is email@example.com or telephone 01727 744250.
How long has Hertsmere Leisure been managing Bushey Country Club?
Hertsmere Leisure Trust has operated our leisure centres – The Venue, Hertswood, Furzefield, Bushey Grove and Wyllyotts – since 2002.
In 2011, we undertook a Leisure Facilities Management Procurement process to include Threeways and Bushey Community Centres, 50+ activities and parks events, together with Bushey Country Club (BCC), which was awarded to Hertsmere Leisure.
What will happen to the council’s area office in Bushey?
This will be located at Citizens Advice in Rudolph Road from 5 April.
What will happen to the police’s drop in centre?
That will stay on site for the time being.
When did the council first know about the financial difficulties?
Hertsmere Leisure's contract to run all of our leisure facilities across the borough started in 2012. Bushey Country Club has operated at a deficit since the start of that contract, which was anticipated from the outset. However, that financial performance has deteriorated in the past five years of the contract whilst other facilities in the borough have performed much better.
What steps were taken to reduce costs and increase income to sustain the centre?
Management of the facility rested with Hertsmere Leisure independently. The interventions they put in place did not achieve the improvements in the financial position that Hertsmere Leisure anticipated.
Which organisation foots the bill for the considerable financial losses?
Hertsmere Leisure ran the facility as an independent organisation under a contract with us so the losses rest with them.
What strategic planning has been undertaken in relation to the golf course land and buildings?
We are in the early stages of deciding on next steps and will look to consult with residents and stakeholders in the coming months about the future of Bushey Country Club.
Does the site appear in the council’s Local Plan or Strategic Housing Land Assessment?
It appears as a potential site for growth on the issues and options document for our new Local Plan which is currently being developed. This means the site could be considered for development for employment, leisure, housing or other uses in the future but there are no particular plans at present.
Did any meetings take place with Hertsmere Leisure to discuss the financial problems and what options were explored or plans put in place to deal with the closure?
As part of our on-going contract monitoring, Hertsmere Leisure has kept us informed of how the facility was being managed. We had been in dialogue with Hertsmere Leisure about the financial position before the impending closure was leaked on social media. We are working to deal with this in the best interests of the community and the council.
What is happening to the car wash facilities and other small businesses operating at the site?
The car wash will be remaining for the time being. The other small businesses have been given notice.