Business secretary says that golf courses are not ‘sacred’ and he sympathises with families who cannot find homes but are surrounded by courses
Britain’s golf courses should be built on to solve the country’s housing crisis, a Cabinet minister has said.
Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, said most families would rather have a garden outside their front door than protected greenbelt miles away from their home.
Mr Cable was commenting on research earlier this year from the London School of Economics that showed more of Surrey is devoted to golf courses than housing.
In a meeting on the fringe of the Liberal Democrat party conference, he said that if he were in a middle income family in Surrey struggling to find a suitable home he would “ask myself is a golf course sacred or are there better uses of the land?”.
Mr Cable said it was a “cliché” to rely on brownfield land for new developments and insisted there must be a focus on using up agricultural land.
He told the meeting organised by Localis, a think tank: “Most people do want green, they want green but they would rather have it outside their own house than sitting 20 miles away where they have no access to it.” The LibDem said new housing was being focused on the south east because “people are not flocking to Burnley”. He suggested there would need to be for central government to drive new development rather than leave it to local areas otherwise it would not happen. We are going to need that element of stick as well as carrot,” he said. But Mr Cable defended so-called Nimbys – not in my backyard – insisting their desire to protect the area around their homes was “totally rational”. He added: “When you create an environment in which the most important thing is somebody’s life is their home and its value… then people are going to fight to the last ditch to stop those values being affected.” According to Golf England, there are a 103 clubs in Surrey, with 1,764 holes in total. According to analysis by Inside Housing 150,000 hectares or 1.1 per cent of England’s 13.4m hectares is covered is covered by golf courses. The comments were dismissed by Sir Paul Beresford, Conservative MP for Mole Valley in Surrey He said: “The answer to that is that Vince Cable is into dancing and dance studios – perhaps we can turn all the dance studios in Twickenham into care homes. Would that help? “it is quite ridiculous. The employment it gives to Surrey people ismoney it brings is enormous. Look at the cars queued you would think it was Gatwick airport, whacking a little ball around a bit of green.”