Council drops sale of Coulsdon Manor Hotel and golf course

Below par: the Coulsdon Manor Hotel and the 140-acre golf course have been removed from sale by cash-strapped Croydon Council

Our south of the borough correspondent, PEARL LEE, on another massive hole in the council’s budgets

Croydon Council has taken Coulsdon Manor Hotel off the market.

The grand country house, sitting in a 140-acre parkland golf course, was put out for offers in July 2021, part of the fire sale of the cash-strapped council’s assets after the previous Labour administration had crashed the borough’s finances.

Katharine Street sources suggest that council officers had suggested that the hotel sale could put as much as £750,000 into the financially embarrassed Town Hall coffers.

There has been no official announcement about the withdrawal of the hotel from sale on the council website, not even so much as a tweet on part-time Perry’s mayoral account. But word has been dribbled out from a Tory councillor in Coulsdon to the local residents’ associations that the Coulsdon Manor Hotel and the accompanying golf course are no longer being sold.

This move is, according to Councillor Margaret Bird, because Mayor Perry is “listening” to residents’ concerns.

Coulsdon councillor: Margaret Bird

More likely, though, the hotel has been removed from sale because – after 14 months on the market – the council couldn’t find a buyer. Post-covid, the hotel business ain’t in great shape.

A 42-room hotel in suburban south London in 2022 is as likely to prove to be a business liability as a profitable enterprise, especially a building which, by most accounts, requires considerable money spending on maintenance and refurbishment.

What was once known as Coulsdon Court, from the days it was the home of the Byron family, was bought by the Coulsdon and Purley Urban District Council in 1937. The golf course, which was opened as a private club in 1926, has been a pay-as-you-play public course for the last 85 years.

Bespoke Hotels have operated the re-styled Coulsdon Manor Hotel and the golf course under long-term leases from Croydon Council for more than 20 years.

According to official council reports last year, in 1999 Bespoke took on the golf club by paying an initial premium of £150,000 and they have since paid a seemingly modest annual rental of around £19,000, “based upon a percentage of the turnover income”.

Clubhouse: Coulsdon Manor has had a tough couple of years

The council report said that the hotel, with its function rooms and restaurant, “is let on a separate lease of a similar length with 103 years remaining but is on a peppercorn rent. An initial premium of £600,000 was paid in 1999 for the lease”.

It is thought that Bespoke made the first approach to the council with a view to buying the property. But that initial enthusiasm appears to have waned.

Potential difficulties over access roads and the need for refurbishment – the hotel closed its squash club six years ago – and restricted options for developing some of the site around the hotel for housing may have made the purchase less attractive.

The building and the surrounding green acres are on the Local List of Historic Parks and Gardens, which restricts how the building and the site can be used for development. The adjoining Coulsdon Court Woods form part of a Site of Nature Conservation Importance, and the entire site is in the Metropolitan Green Belt.

This all leaves Mayor Perry’s Tory council with another hole in its already threadbare budget – they had managed to overspend by more than £18million in their first three months in office.

And it will be up to the council, as the owners of the hotel, to meet the costs of any maintenance and repairs required to the hotel’s old buildings.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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6 Responses to Council drops sale of Coulsdon Manor Hotel and golf course

  1. Lewis White says:

    I hope that the Council have some funding that would allow them to come up with a number of design options for this historic character house and its surrounding park.

    I am wondering if we will be seeing in a few years:-

    Inside Croydon– 26 Sept 2029 (Planning, Property and Environment)

    For sale- Heritage building and surrounding land with creative potential for a refurbishment of the existing building and construction of new residential develoipment on half a golf course, subject to retention of trees. With retention of a 9 hole golf course, woodlands etc. Possible alternative –a Cemetery/ Crematorium or Burial Centre with extensive land for burials and interments in beautiful mature landscape setting

    To allow the above, a section of Green Belt would have to be de-classified.

    A key question is– how viable is golf? Is it getting more popular, or less, or is the number of participants static?

    With the building within the last 20 years of three enormous courses on former farm land at Farleigh, Chaldon and Woldingham valley, a vast acreage of golf course capacity was opened up within a short drive of suburban Croydon, which must have had a real undermining effect on existing courses, of which there are a great number.

    Most of these old courses have a fanstastic landscape with mature trees and sweeping open grasslands on the fairways and roughs–some of which are host to rare wild flowers. The new courses too, have maturing landscapes.

    If golf goes from any of thes ecourses, old or new, these landscapes are under threat, whether of decline into shabby grazing land for horses, or from building, and –perhaps the worst- decline over decades into a long-term “urban fringe landscape limbo”, with landscape ruination, and dereliction, selling off as “leisure plots with hope value for building” and ad hoc uses such as transport yards, waste storage, outdoor car storage, motorbiking,paintballing, caravan sites etc.

    I have not seen any figures from the Council for the number of tickets being sold at Coulsdon Court over the last 20 years, but to see such figures would be helpful , as indeed would “sleep nights” totals for the hotel.

    How viable is the existing hotel and the course?
    Is the scenario very like that at Selsdon Park Hotel ?

    It would seem that Coulsdon Court now needs a real design assessment of what could be done, and where it could be done. This would have to look at the scope for housing. For many local residents, the idea of any change involving building is appalling.

    The worrying, but probably real alternative to some redevelopment would be a gradual decline in the house and the course, unless there is a magical and massive upturn in golf and hotel usage in Outer London.

    Big old houses need real, economically viable uses. Immaculately kept parkland landscapes like this golf course need a lot of TLC from ground staff as well as money to keep in good condition.

    Wanted– in this new Carlist Era- a real study of the options for the next 100 years.

    The Byron family who built the house and who probably planted some of the oldest trees still present on the golf course, ended up selling off most of their lands for building….. many an Old Cousdon resident lives on their former farmlands.

  2. derekthrower says:

    As with the ongoing problems at the privately owned Selsdon Park Hotel this part of the service industry is in severe trouble. Don’t think part-time Perry can be blamed for the sale failing. Most likely the bid was withdrawn because the Company probably can no longer raise or commit the money with the great uncertainty surrounding the economy, which is already certainly six months into a recession

    • Agree, Del Boy.

      But nor should part-time Perry boast that the hotel has been withdrawn from sale because he is responding to residents’ views. He is not. It is a false narrative. A lie.

  3. Lewis White says:

    Thinking about it– the sale price “guesstimate” of £ 750,000 is peanuts. About half a modest house on the Woodcote Estate or Shirley hills.

    If the council ends up selling it one day, they really need to have given planning permission for housing on the brownfield area around the main building which isn’t constrained by Green Belt rules.

    They would then get more like £5million– or even more.
    If anyone benefits from future redevelopment, the Council should.

    Or a profit share agreement on sale, regarding getting a fair share of future redevelopment value of all or part of the House and Golf course is ever redeveloped .

    That would be a sort of insurance policy to ensure the Council does not lose out.

    Of course, improved numbers of Hotel guests, and an upturn in golf use would be best. But how likely is that ?

    • The Council has to look at it in a different way from this. There is the political view point of the untouchable green belt or touchable metropolitan land or whatever they want to classify it at that the point of time. The local Conservative MP is involved in the property development industry, but he campaigns against property development in his own constituency. In Croydon South it seems you can make day become try and retain political dominance.
      Secondarily this is a long standing business. We don’t know the liabilities or other debt associated with this site. To make some simple estate agent guesses about the value of land without full knowledge of the underlying issues is rather like Mr Philps performance in the unravelling economic mess he is currently inflicting on the nation. As Confucius says. “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance”.

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