Targetfollow sets sights on town golf course purchase

Pam Mills

Targetfollow is taking steps towards the purchase of Tunbridge Wells Golf Club, the Times can reveal.

The company, which owns the Tunbridge Wells and Rusthall Commons and The Pantiles, has made an offer for an option to buy the Langton Road club.

The deal, thought to be worth about £50,000, would allow Targetfollow 12 months in which to decide whether or not to complete the purchase. If it pulled out, the option money would be forfeited.

Golf club chairman Steve Grogan said he does not know why the property development company wants to buy the 35-acre facility, which is owned by about 100 ‘shareholder’ members.

He added: “They said they’ve got a lot of land in the area and would like to add to it.

“It’s all very much up in the air. They’ve made an offer to buy an option to buy the club. If they do decide to buy it, part of the deal will be that the club can lease it back for a couple of years, although unfortunately we’ve got no idea after that.”

Mr Grogan said Targetfollow first made an approach to the club some six months ago.

He added: “Initially, members’ reaction was wary because we didn’t have a lot of detail, we still don’t. But eventually, they agreed to accept the option.”

Targetfollow would not make any comment on the sale as it is a ‘commercially sensitive matter’, adding: “We wouldn’t comment or speculate on commercial transactions before they’ve been done.”

But it is thought that while the option could be worth £50,000, the overall price tag for the club could be £1.75m

A man who lives near the club, who did not want to be named, said there was concern locally over whether Targetfollow could seek to build on the land.

He added: “You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to think there must be a reason they’ve bought the option.

“It’s possible to deregister parts of the common, so they could be put to commercial use, if you provide compensating land that could be used like the common is but you have to go through the secretary of state (for the environment).

“I think that’s what’s intriguing people, why aren’t they just buying it? Could it be they want the time to explore the deregistering, or planning permission?”

The Times reported last month that lawyers acting on behalf of Targetfollow had written to residents of a number of roads in Rusthall, telling them they would have to pay for licences to access their homes across the land, or run services such as electricity underneath it.

We also reported last week that a petition is calling on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to help in securing the commons for the town.

Targetfollow declined to make any further comment ‘at this stage’.

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