Replacing golf courses with homes to solve London’s housing shortage?

Recent analysis by CityMetric estimates that London’s golf courses alone could provide 267,400 family-sized homes accommodating around one million people.

The average golf course occupies between 30 to 60 hectares which is approximately the equivalent of one and a half to three green parks.

CityMetric’s investigation highlights the fact that land around London is finite and expensive. Golf courses are taking up land and space that could be used for much needed housing, employment or schools.

In the London Plan, even at the lowest housing densities discussed of 35 homes per hectare, a small golf course could offer land sufficient for over 3,500 homes.

In 2017, the London borough of Lewisham did close Beckenham Place Park, one of the city’s oldest courses, to remodel it as a proper public park. The closure of the publicly-owned course was greeted by an outcry from those who wanted to play golf but couldn’t afford membership at expensive private clubs.

Surrey – more golf courses than housing

CityMetric’s analysis says that within the M25 there are 189 golf courses covering 76.4 sq km (29.5 sq mi) which is 3.3% of the total land.

Surrey boasts over 140 golf courses and for the past few years, it has been argued that more of its land is taken up by golf courses than housing. The county’s average house price stands at £570,703 (Zoopla) indicating that there continues to be a shortage of affordable homes.

John Elledge, editor at CityMetric, said: “While some golf courses are open to the wider public, many are not. It means that huge chunks of land are reserved for rich peoples’ leisure time. I think it’s worth asking whether, in the midst of a housing crisis, this is the best use of a scarce common resource.”

Glasgow’s plans for reforestation

Glasgow has mooted a plan to reforest its golf courses. The Herald local paper reported: “The city council earlier this year announced a climate emergency and an aspiration to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030. It has also launched a consultation on the future of six of its public golf courses, key green space smack in the middle of Scotland’s most densely populated areas.

“A group of councillors has called for the courses – including the 18-hole Littlehill, Lethamhill and Linn Park – to be transformed into forests, wetlands or even allotments.”

Golf courses not so ‘green’

The Campaign to Protect Rural England has flagged the fact that golf courses ‘are not terribly green’, requiring vast quantities of water and herbicide to maintain.

Elledge said: “We’re never actually going to do this, of course, and even if we could we probably shouldn’t: even if golf club memberships are falling, some courses will survive, and anyway open space is a good thing. But the point is clear, all the same: London is keeping a lot of land free for golf.”

Self-certified Sophisticated Investor

Please read

I declare that I am a self-certified sophisticated investor for the purposes of the restriction on promotion of non-mainstream pooled investments. I understand that this means:

I am a self-certified sophisticated investor because at least one of the following applies:

I accept that the investments to which the promotions will relate may expose me to a significant risk of losing all of the money or other property invested. I am aware that it is open to me seek advice from someone who specialises in advising on non-mainstream pooled investments.

High Net Worth Investor

Please read

I make this statement so that I can receive promotional communications which are exempt from the restriction on promotion of non-mainstream pooled investments. The exemption relates to certified high net worth investors and I declare that I qualify as such because at least one of the following applies to me:



Sign-up for first access to new developments and exclusive property investment opportunities.

We send limited and targeted emails on new launches and exclusive deals which best fit your areas. We are trusted by over 30,000 active buyers as their source for new stock.

  • New property developments
  • Professional market reports
  • Property deal alerts
  • Development updates
UK holiday let


Receive trending news straight to your inbox and stay up to date on all of the property market trends and advice.

Established since 2005 we are a leading voice of authority and commentary on the UK property market. Our news is trusted by Apple News & Google News.

  • UK housing market
  • Mortgage & money
  • Buy-to-let landlords
  • Guides & advice

Talk to us

Speak to our UK property experts today:


+44 (0) 333 123 0320

Open from 9am-6pm GMT


+852 6699 9008

Open from 9am-6pm HKT