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Pit Farm Tennis Club Allowed to Light Up Court One

Published on: 21 May, 2020
Updated on: 23 May, 2020

Two members of Pit Farm Tennis Club who said they were happy with the news of the planning approval for extra lighting. The club entrance is on Hillier Road

by Martin Giles

An application for six extra floodlights at Guildford’s Pit Farm Tennis Club was allowed at last night’s GBC Planning Committee.

Previous applications, lost on appeal in 1996, proposed floodlighting to Courts One and Two at the club but this application was for Court One only.

Court One is outlined in red – image GBC

The planning officer’s report stated: “Lighting technology has significantly improved since the 1996 dismissed appeal. Light spillage would now be less than three lux, which is a negligible lighting impact. Environmental Health have raised no objection tot he proposal.”

Court One is the court closest to the clubhouse. Court Two is in the foreground, closer to Hillier Road.

There were 23 letters of objection to the Planning Committee. The report summarised those concerns as:

  • Light pollution;
  • Increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic;
  • Noise disturbance;
  • Negative impact on the residential character of the area;
  • Loss of residential amenity;
  • Existing floodlit courts not in use at capacity/no identified need for additional courts to be floodlit;
  • Previous refusals remain relevant;
  • The club is not part of the local community because many members are not local; and
  • No back-shields on existing floodlights needs to be addressed.

But there were 54 letters of support, claiming:

  • Important sporting facility for the local community;
  • Beneficial after-school coaching for local children;
  • Health and general mental well-being benefits far outweigh any perceived negative impact;
  • Essential for continuing usage in winter months;
  • High specification floodlighting;
  • Back-shields prevent light spillage;
  • Minimal or no impact on neighbours in terms of light and noise disruption;
  • Time-restricted floodlighting is less obtrusive than street lighting; and
  • Membership limitations without additional floodlit court.

Local resident Mr Sugia told councillors the existing floodlighting was sufficient and the private tennis club had no regard for the disturbance this new lighting would cause local residents, adding: “Almost every resident in the street had objected to this plan, including some past and present [tennis] club members.”

Gillian Blackburn, local resident and club chairman for the past five years, said the club had been “an important sports facility for the town for generations”.

The club, she said, had only six courts for a membership of about 450, including more than 200 juniors. This meant the club has to make the best possible use of the courts available. In the darker months playing time is curtailed by the lack of light. The club had taken into account neighbours concerns by excluding Court Two from the scheme.

Cllrs Maddy Redpath (R4GV, Holy Trinity), Chris Blow (R4GV, Shalford) and Chris Barrass (R4GV, Clandon & Horsley) thought the 9pm limit should be brought forward to 8pm but Cllr Marsha Moseley (Con, Ash Vale) said 9pm was in line with most other tennis clubs and legal advice was given that a trial period of use, to assess the impact, was not possible.

Councillors voted 11 to one to give planning permission in line with the council officer’s recommendation. There were two abstentions.

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