The Business Times

Golf clubs to know lease renewal fate on Feb 16

The government is expected to announce policy on lease extensions

Published Fri, Feb 7, 2014 · 10:00 PM
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GOLF clubs, which have held off major developments as they await confirmation on the renewal of their leases, will learn of their fate come next Sunday.

The authorities are expected to announce policy on lease extensions at separate briefing sessions with four golf clubs, which would be followed by a discussion.

The government will also make a public announcement the same day.

Members of Tanah Merah Country Club, National Service Resort and Country Club (NSRCC) in Changi, Singapore Island Country Club (SICC) and Keppel Club have been invited to closed-door sessions with various government agencies on Feb 16.

This follows the government's round of consultations with the clubs in November last year.

The Ministry of Law had said in February last year that some of the 18 golf courses here would be phased out, and the land put to other uses.

Uncertainty over lease renewals has weighed on the open-market prices of transferrable golf club memberships, especially at clubs with leases expiring within a decade.

Golf clubs have also had to put off development plans. In September last year, Raffles Country Club members voted down a plan by the club to spend $26 million revamping one of its courses.

The Singapore Land Authority then urged golf clubs to hold off major development and recruitment plans until lease plans were made certain.

The leases for Keppel Club, SICC, and Tanah Merah Country Club expire in seven years, while NSRCC has eight years left.

Under the Draft Master Plan released last year, Keppel Club now sits on a piece of land zoned for residential purposes, while parts of NSRCC's course have been designated as a reserve site, meaning that specific uses have not been fixed.

Golf courses typically occupy land zoned for sports and recreation.

Market talk is that Tanah Merah and NSRCC would only be able to renew parts of their courses as Changi Airport embarks on an aggressive expansion plan.

At the same time, rumours are that the SICC - the largest golf club here with four 18-hole golf courses - might have some courses portioned out to other golf clubs, or have its leasing terms changed to open its course to non-members during certain periods in a week.

The 18 golf courses in Singapore occupy about 1,500 hectares, or 2 per cent of Singapore's total land area. Most are on a 30-year lease that expire between 2021 and 2030.

Eleven of these clubs are private. Altogether, they have about 30,000 members who are estimated to hold about $3 billion worth of golf club memberships.

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