No love for Padel tennis at Nailsea School by angry neighbours
By Carol_Deacon | Friday, February 08, 2013, 16:45
Angry residents want to stop a Costa del Sol sporting craze being built near their homes at Nailsea.
This is Pepé Rondón playing in a Padel tennis championship at Malaga last year. Pepé won his match decisively in the preliminary rounds of the Paddle Tennis Category 3 Team Championship of Andalusia hosted by La Capellania Club. PHOTO by Padelazo.com
Nailsea Town Council planning and environment committee chairman James Tonkin talks to residents before the meeting
Fernando Monserrate puts his proposals to the planning and environment committee
Local dad Fernando Monserrate faced a barrage of opposition to his plans to build one of the first Padel tennis courts in the country at Nailsea School when he attended a town council meeting this week.
More than 20 people who live in properties next door to the secondary school turned up at the planning and environment committee at the Tithe Barn.
Resident Jim Baldwin, aged 62, spoke on behalf of the households living next to the school.
He said: "Forget sport, this is an application to run a commercial business by a limited company.
"What is being proposed is a 13 hour a day, every day, operation which includes weekends, school and bank holidays."
He was backed by others who complained it will cause massive parking problems as well as noise and light pollution.
Mr Baldwin added: "The planning application is weak on detail and glosses over the noise, light and parking problems.
"This is a significant structure which will be 30ft tall and uses high intensity lights.
"The hours of use as proposed would be intolerable for nearby residents."
Mr Monserrate, of Avening Close, is a director of Padel Tennis England Ltd, and has two teenage children at Nailsea School.
He has submitted a planning application to convert existing tennis courts into the glass-encased Padel courts.
Mr Monserrate said: "Tennis is not football or rugby and does not involve the swearing and shouting associated with these games neither does is attract hordes of spectators.
"There are 200,000 Padel courts in Spain and this would be the first one in this country outside London."
But Ash Hayes Road resident Barbara Bond said: "There will be noise spillage in our homes from the bats and balls because when it is quiet we can hear sports being played at Scotch Horn.
"Banging a ball on a glass wall causes noise and at 9pm or 10pm at night this isn't fair.
Neighbour Martin Jones has lived in the house closest to the school for 26 years.
He said: "We are entitled to a quality of life and peace not to have this all the time it will be virtually 24/7."
And Duncan Martin, also of Ash Hayes Road, cited the size of the proposed build in his letter to the district council planners which was on display at the town council meeting.
Mr Martin said: "Apart from its height, bulk and retractable covers we are told little about this structure.
"It is the size of a very large family house and has 12 floodlights inside.
"It also has the capacity for 50 people with 12 of them playing a squash type game.
"How will this 'tent' look alongside our swish new designer school?"
Town councillor Neil Middleton said: "We should welcome new sports facilities for Nailsea but clearly there are issues with the lighting and you have to balance the benefit with the nuisance to neighbours.
"With regret, the application as it stands, the issues outweigh the benefits."
Despite assurances about operating times and floodlighting committee chairman James Tonkin reminded councillors they could only consider the planning application as it was set out in the agenda papers.
He said: "The information before you says the usage will be until 10pm on a regular basis.
"I believe the residents are entitled to some sort of respite.
"In my opinion there would not have been such a furore over this planning application if the many people with concerns had been consulted before this meeting."
The committee voted to recommended refusal.
This now goes to North Somerset Council central area planning committee which is likely to make a decision on Thursday, March 14.
Padel is a racquet sport played extensively in Spain and Latin America.
It is typically played in doubles on an enclosed court about half the size of a tennis court.
The balls used and the scoring is the same as ordinary tennis, just with a little less pressure.
The biggest difference is that the court has walls and the balls can be played off them in a similar way as in the game of squash.
The sport was invented in Acapulco, Mexico, by Enrique Corcuera in 1969.
The sport's huge popularity along the Costa del Sol in southern Spain has exposed it to a large number of British residents and holidaymakers and this is one of the reasons it is beginning to take off in the UK.
Prior to the committee meeting head teacher David New said; "The glass sides extend to about 2m (6.6ft) from the ground and there is a waterproof canvas canopy to cover the courts in winter.
"This is to protect the players from the rain and it will also block stray light from the courts spilling out."
The school has two multi-use games areas (MUGAs).
One has four tennis courts which double as a netball court and are closest to the footpath behind Ash Hayes Road.
The smaller MUGA which is the subject of the planning application has two tennis courts and an unused basketball court.
Up until the 1980s a swimming pool and sports hall stood on the land.
The swimming pool which was built by the then PTA sprung a leak and the corrugated plastic sheets on the large sports hall blew away in a high wind.
To see the full planning application click HERE.
In June last year a North Somerset Council planning committee opposed increasing the usage of the floodlights by up to 12 hours per week after neighbours complained of glare, excessive noise and swearing from players using the pitch.
The school is requesting a judicial review of the process by which our appeal to extend the operating hours of its all-weather pitch was turned down, confirmed Mr New.
He added: "This is because of acknowledged failures of process by the Local Authority and planning inspector."
The pitch was constructed when the £32 million comprehensive was rebuilt and is currently not open as long as other all-weather pitches at Clevedon and Gordano schools.
An extension of opening hours would have allowed an extra 200 sports people to use the pitch each week.