Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Tennis players back club plan for floodlights

PLANS to install floodlights at Henley Tennis Club have been supported by members.

The club, off Tilebarn Close, is seeking planning permission to install outdoor lights on 8m high poles for two of its courts.

Henley Town Council has recommended the application be refused, saying it lacked details and the lights would not be suitable in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

But people who have responded to the public consultation on the plans say the club has offered a “lifeline” to the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mia Gibbons, of Valley Road, said: “Please approve these floodlights.

“Both my sons and I are members of this lovely tennis club and after school will be the main time that we will be able to play on the courts, which will only be possible in the winter months with the addition of this lighting.

“The more access our children have to sports all year round, the better.”

Melanie Matthews, also of Valley Road, said: “I believe the ability to play tennis for longer hours during the darker autumn and winter months with the aid of floodlights will be of benefit to the community, particularly children.”

Paul Cantrill, of Elizabeth Road, has been a member of the club since 1992 and says it must work hard to keep up interest in tennis.

He said: “For many years the club has just ambled along, providing facilities for a relatively small number of players. It has not reached out to a wider public.

“However, since Colin Main took over as president, many new members have joined. A lot of younger people have started playing.

“The new intake also comes from a more diverse background. The club has had a new lease of life and this has been reflected in the team’s success in competition.

“In the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic — as more people have decided to lose weight and exercise — there have been a host of new faces on the courts. The club is definitely going places.

“I know from experience that enthusiasm can fade as winter approaches, the nights draw in and possible playing time is restricted for many to weekends, which are often busy for those with families.

“Floodlights will extend the periods when play is possible and get more people on the courts and more often.”

Clair Foster, of Berkshire Road, said: “My daughter and I have just joined Henley Tennis Club and we’re already benefiting from regular exercise after a busy working day or school day.

“I wholly support the introduction of floodlights, giving many people the opportunity to exercise outdoors at the end of the day, especially during the winter months.”

Ben Hewes, of Harpsden Road, said: “Floodlights are important to the tennis club, which has in turn provided a lifeline during these difficult times.

“It will improve the use and popularity of the club, which will in turn benefit Henley.”

South Oxfordshire District Council’s countryside officer Edward Church lodged a holding objection to the application.

He said an ecological report recommended that lighting mitigation was introduced.

But he added: “The submitted lighting report does not make it clear how the proposed lighting scheme complied with the recommendations of the ecological report or the associated guidance.”

He asked for more details such as the position of the hoods and shields of the lights to be provided.

The district council, the planning authority, was due to make a decision by today (Friday).

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