Durban - The tug of war over the prime Beachwood Golf Course property has ended, with the Durban Country Club announcing on Thursday that the property is to be sold. The golf course is one of two, along with the Durban Country Club course, that the club owns and will be put on sale because it is in financial straits. Club CEO Pascale van Maris, said: “This should not be seen as a loss, but rather as an opportunity to streamline the overall offering of the club. We are extremely passionate about making an indelible difference, and that will be seen sooner rather than later.” Approached for further comment yesterday, the club said: “Based on the current financial situation, it is in the best interest of the club to proceed with the sale of this property. The club doesn’t have sufficient golf members to sustain two golf courses. Further information about this process will be distributed in due course.” The decision to sell Beachwood comes after the club fell into financial difficulty and membership numbers dropped from 6 500 to 3 300. A plan to develop 2.4 hectares of the property for sectional residential properties was rejected earlier this year by some club members, who appealed against the decision by town planning to allow the rezoning of the area. Opposition The Mercury’s sister newspaper, The Independent on Saturday, reported last month that an alternative body of members had voiced its opposition to the sale of the property and sent out a “rescue plan” to members last month, that included compulsory contributions. The group had lobbied for the golf course to be kept, and proposed a compulsory contribution by members to boost the club’s funds and keep it running. While the club refused to divulge whether there were interested parties in the running to purchase Beachwood, The Mercury reported last year that the golf course had been included in a plan for a R6 billion development for Virginia Airport. The plans for Beachwood were included in an unsolicited bid proposal submitted to the eThekwini Municipality by SeaWorld Investment Holdings.
Read also: R45m bail-out plan for country club In the proposal, the Virginia airport site was to include upmarket flats, a hotel, restaurants and other amenities, and Beachwood was to become a holiday club resort, hotel and 18-hole golf course. However, at that stage the country club said it had no agreement with SeaWorld for the development. When asked yesterday if SeaWorld had indicated any interest, the club’s communications team declined to comment. “The details of how the process will unfold will be decided at a board meeting next week. We issued the release following on from articles in the press about whether or not the Beachwood course was going to be sold, so following the special general meeting that took place [on Wednesday], it was voted by the majority of members that the Beachwood course would actually be sold.” The announcement to sell the Beachwood property coincides with an announcement by the council that a municipal bid adjudication committee meeting would be held on December 6 for discussions on the unsolicited bid from SeaWorld. DA ward councillor Shaun Ryley yesterday said it was the club’s prerogative to sell the golf course, but questioned the timing. Rob Goulden of the Fairway Residents’ Association said Thursday night that residents “feel disappointed” about the decision. He was speaking after a community meeting. Goulden said that the residents had put forward a proposal to have a smaller-scale hotel operation on the site of Beachwood Golf Course a few years ago, but that was rejected by the board of Durban Country Club. “We had a solution to the rejuvenation of the place. The resolution wasn’t supported. The board had indicated that it [the residents’ plan] didn’t support their thinking. They said it would interfere with facilities offered by Beachwood.” SeaWorld could not be reached for comment yesterday.