Sunday, 09 December 2018

Tennis club may sell land for housing development

A TENNIS club could be relocated and its current site sold for housing.

Members of Caversham Lawn Tennis Club in Queensborough Drive are being asked to vote on the move to the Mapledurham Estate or stay where they are and upgrade the existing facilities.

An extraordinary meeting will be held on Wednesday and the vote will be decided by a simple majority.

The club has about 500 members and 300 of these are eligible to vote.

If the club moved, it would be rebuilt on land opposite the entrance to Caversham Heath Golf Club and the existing three-acre site could be sold for as much as

£4.5 million.

The alternative is to stay in Queensborough Drive and spend an estimated £800,000 resurfacing the courts and improving the clubhouse. The club would apply to the Lawn Tennis Association for a grant. The club says both options are based on several key assumptions, such as planning permission being granted to develop the new site.

The proposed move comes after the club was refused permission to install nine 7m high LED floodlights last year. Reading Borough Council said this would cause light pollution that would be “harmful” to the character and appearance of the area.

Chairman Peter Newman said the club had no choice but to come up with a new plan to secure its future.

He said: “It was prompted by the failure of the club to put up floodlights, which we have tried to do for two or three years. Neighbours have been unhappy with the idea and the plans have always been refused.

“As a result we have lost and are losing members because we are at a disadvantage to other clubs which have floodlights.”

The club currently uses a semi-permament “dome” from October to March to allow tennis to be played. This was installed after the old one was destroyed by a tree blown over in strong winds.

If the club stays where it is, the dome would be replaced by a permamen structure that would have interior lights and opaque windows.

Mr Newman, who lives in The Warren, Caversham, said the club had a draft leasehold agreement with the Mapledurham Estate should members chose to move but stressed that the club was not making a recommendation to the meeting.

He that he had been approached by developers about the availability of the site and the club would have a duty to secure the best possible deal.

Mr Newman said: “We have two to three acres and you wouldn’t be able to fit too many houses on there, perhaps between 10 and 15. The problem we have is that we are a sports club in the middle of houses which are uncomfortable with what we have tried to do so having housing here would be a natural solution.”

Campaign group Keep Emmer Green has said it doesn’t want the site redeveloped.

Chairman Julian Ansell said: “The tennis club is located in the heart of Caversham Heights surrounded by houses on all sides.

“Housing development in this area would add to the levels of traffic and pollution, particularly in the centre of Caversham where they are unacceptably high.”

The club was formed in the early 1900s and was originally called Caversham Sports and Bowls Club. The tennis club was founded in 1933, about 10 years after the bowls club moved to nearby Albert Road.

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