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Former bowling club site sold to luxury developers for £7 million

New owner: ‘We pride ourselves on doing things that are the right thing to do’

27 August, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

The site in Croftdown Road

DEVELOPERS specialising in building luxury houses have spent around £7million on a plot of land in Dartmouth Park that has been at the centre of a planning wrangle for more than a decade.

The former Mansfield Bowling Club, in Croftdown Road, was sold last week by building firm Generator and the bowling club’s directors to developers Harrison Varma.

The two-and-a-half acre plot nestling behind homes in York Rise, Laurier Road, Croftdown Road and Dartmouth Park Avenue was once given to the community by philanthropist Angela Burdett Coutts to be used for sport. Harrison Varma’s owner Anil Varma told the New Journal the site should be considered as a “blank piece of paper”.

Mr Varma said he hoped neighbours who had campaigned to save the club and safeguard the land for community use would help shape any future scheme.

He told the New Journal: “We do not have any firm proposals. We look at the site, discuss with neighbours and then work from there. We pride ourselves on doing things that are the right thing to do. We like, of course, to make money but it isn’t about ramming proposals down people’s throats. We have a duty of care to do what is best for our environment.”

In 2013, Generator paid £2.6m for the site to the club which had faced financial problems with falling membership. After a long-running battle with planners and residents, the company secured permission in 2017 to build a 21-home estate, including 10 affordable homes, a community garden and new tennis courts.

But Mr Varma said: “We currently feel a care home might work better than an apartment scheme. There are lots of things here that could work, but the current plan, with residential, is no longer affordable as it has too much affordable housing on site. Having 20 homes here would make a lot of sense and they could be tailored to people’s needs. But we do not feel it would be economically viable to offer social housing, too.”

A medical centre for GPs, dentist, children’s playground and outdoor gym could be some options. With any scheme likely to take at least a year to earn planning permission, Mr Varma is exploring creating a communal garden.

Anil Varma

Mr Varma, who lives in Highgate, said he had closely watched the redevelopment of nearby Swains Lane and had been impressed with how residents had worked to shape what type of shops they wanted.

A letter will be sent out this week to people living nearby in an effort to establish a development forum to shape the project. The former bowling club house is long demolished and the green is now covered in undergrowth and is a haven for wild flowers and wildlife.

The firm has a track record for normally building high-end housing with homes valued between £5m and £25m, but Mr Varma says “nobody wants these houses right now”.

Mr Varma said his firm specialises in problem sites, and had recently converted an empty mansion on The Bishops Avenue – built by a member of Saudi Arabian royalty in the 1980s but was never lived in – into a care home.

Members still waiting for their share

A NUMBER of members of the Mansfield Bowling Club, who are due a share of any proceeds of the sale of the land, are locked in a dispute with the two remaining directors of the defunct club over why they have not yet received funds from its winding up.

MBC directors Andy Docker and Adrian Pruss have been managing the club’s affairs since it closed seven years ago – and some members say they are unhappy that they have yet to be handed their share of the sale to Generator.

Now the issue over how much should be distributed and what process should be used is due to be decided by a judge in October.

With the Harrison Varma deal, members can expect a share of the estimated £500,000 for a strip of land the club had retained ownership of, on top of a cut of the original price.

MBC director Adrian Pruss said: “We are pleased the sale of the land has gone through. “It means the bowling club will no longer be liable for the upkeep for part of the site, and also means members will be receiving extra funds generated from the sale.”


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