Henley Tennis Club Floodlighting Application Objected to by Town Council

Henley Tennis Club has submitted a planning application to install 8 metre high floodlighting on two of its courts in Tilebarn Close, off Deanfield Road.

Chairman of the Henley Tennis Club, Colin Main said in the submission, “Henley Tennis Club is committed to provide a safe, quality venue to learn and play tennis for the people of Henley and the surrounding areas.  To achieve this we desperately need floodlights to allow for all year round children’s coaching, adult social play and match play.  Over the past 6 years we have seen a fluctuation in membership levels from 170 to 430 members.  We have now dropped to around 200 members, mainly due to the fact that other tennis venues in the surrounding area have floodlights and better facilities, where we are only able to provide day-long court usage for about 8 weeks in the year.  The children at our club suffer from no floodlights as all after-school clubs have to shut down between November and March.”

The Club requested pre-application advice from South Oxfordshire District Council which said, “Whilst officers are able to support the principle of lighting of the tennis courts, the potential landscape impact on the Chilterns AONB and the landscape setting on this part of Henley will have to be addressed by any future application. The lighting scheme will also need revising to address ecological concerns and we will require detailed tree protection measures.”

The application was reviewed at last week’s Henley Town Council Planning Committee who unanimously recommended refusal due to the lack of information in the plans provided and inadequate response to matters raised in the pre-application advice, such as the visual impact of the lighting and effect on E1 natural areas.

A resident of Laud’s Close who has objected said, “The application makes no mention to time limits and this implies there could be unacceptable noise and other activity at all hours. Parking is already an issue in Lauds Close and Tilebarn Close, the use of the courts for an extended period of time will exacerbate these problems.

Another resident from Tilebarn Close though said, “This application has my full backing. The Tennis Club are very responsible and noise is not a problem and neither will be the lights as I close my curtains after dark. In fact I think the activity will make the area safer as I often walk home late in the evening and there are often cars in the car park with youths smoking and drinking.”

Afterwards Colin Main responded to the Town Council’s comments, he said, “It was a complete surprise to us that there was a meeting to discuss our application. We had no idea this was part of the process. We are obviously disappointed that a refusal took place but we do understand the initial reasons having just watched the council meeting and the comments made. We are still confused as to what this means for the application. I personally had no idea that we should have interacted with the Henley Town Council prior to SODC decisions so if we have offended anyone  by not keeping them in the loop then we do apologise. The points raised are all being worked through. Our only aim is to secure floodlights to allow all year round play for our youngsters after school clubs and our adults. We are now 300 + strong and growing. Our membership represents the Henley community that want to keep fit and socialise all year round. We have faith that working with the planners and the council we will be given the best advice on how to tick all the boxes so that Henley does have somewhere to play tennis all year round.”