Golf clubs which have fallen on tough times fear plans to build a new course in the area could kill their business.

The 800-year-old Bury Farm, in Edgwarebury Lane, Edgware, could be closed and turned into an exclusive golf club if plans are approved.

But there are already 21 clubs within a five-mile radius of the new development, which opponents claim would be built on a “treasured” patch of greenbelt land.

Stanmore residents David and Linda Cherry surveyed the 15 largest clubs in a five-mile radius - revealing all are short of members and fear the extra competition could force them to close.

Mr Cherry said: “To build yet another seems completely nonsense - especially when it is proposed to construct it on green belt land, cherished and used by local people.

“All the clubs we contacted were aghast at the thought of yet another golf club in the area.”

More than 1,600 people have signed a petition launched by the Broadfields Estate Residents Association to save the farm, which is known as the “jewel in Edgware’s crown”.

It has also been backed by GLA for Barnet Andrew Dismore and MP Matthew Offord.

The study found Radlett Park Golf Club has 350 members but space for an extra 250, and Aldenham Golf Club has vacancies for an extra 200.

Nearby Hendon Golf Club has 450 members but chairman Andrew Hoffbrand said it could “easily” take on an extra 50.

He said: “We’ve fallen on severe times and golf clubs in the area are seeing their membership diminish. It’s happening, there’s nothing we can do to stop it.

“But what we don’t need in any shape or form is a new golf course. It would ruin everything. It would soak up any other potential members.

“It wouldn’t be a good thing at all.”

Aldenham Golf Club proprietor Jacqueline Phillips said: “The last thing the area needs is a golf course at a time where others are looking for members.

“It’s a concern - the recession has hit golf courses hard and people haven’t got much money to spend, so leisure is the first thing they cut.

“If this were to go ahead, it would give us all a smaller slice of the cake.”

The land, owned by All Souls College, Oxford, will be leased to Tony Menai-Davis, who owns The Shire Golf Club in Barnet.

He said he feels those opposed to the plans have “misrepresented” the facts.

He said: “The golf industry has changed, and what is in the area at the moment is traditional member clubs built 100 years ago.

“People want to play on top quality courses, which we can offer here.

“The Shire Golf Club is a proven success and we are at full capacity - but we can’t expand anymore, so this is ideal.

“We’ll be attracting a different clientele. Business here is fantastic and I know this is a well-wanted, well-needed course.”