The Tennis Club (TC) has provided the Parish Council (PC) with an update on their proposals, please click here fore a copy (RMTC Development Consultation). The issue was discussed at the council meeting on 10th February where the following was accepted by all Councillors present:
1&2 Sponsor/Logo – this does not require the PC’s consent or approval therefore no comment;
3 Screening – no objections but the TC has been asked to check whether planning consent will be required;
4 External sign – this does require the PC’s consent in its capacity as owner of the verge which is not included in the lease to the TC. This may require planning consent and it is for the TC to make an application if necessary. The PC will seek to ensure that any sign is suitable in terms of colour and design;
5 Pathway – this had already been agreed in principle at the PC meeting of 11th December 2017 on the basis that level access is required. We have informed the TC that we would like a neutral colour – preferably charcoal.
6 Covered social area – we have asked the TC to provide full details for this proposal which it is anticipated will require the TC to obtain planning consent. It will also require the PC’s consent as landlord (See below as to consent).
Floodlights – this is recognised to be the most contentious aspect of the TC’s proposals with those residents who have contacted the PC on this issue. Out of 39 letters received by the PC all were opposed to this proposal or to some aspects of it. (We cannot comment on what views have been expressed to the TC). It is the PC’s understanding that planning permission will be required. As such, the proper forum at which this proposal should be considered is the planning application process. Councillor Anne Dale outlined the application process including appeals. She stressed that planning is a highly technical area and the County Council’s planning officers look in depth at those technical aspects in accordance with both national and local planning policies.
The PC has taken into account the tennis club’s statement that “In view of representations made in person at the December 11 presentation, in feedback forms, and in further discussions and correspondence, it is the judgement of the committee that further evaluations of the proposed installation of floodlighting will be required. These evaluations will examine in further detail all feedback which is still being received and will encompass the estimated cost of floodlighting; the availability of grants and other financial support; the cost of maintenance and repairs; times of operation; the environmental impact; and the impact on neighbouring properties and residents.
It is anticipated these evaluations will be detailed and complex, and will take a significant time to undertake. Once they are completed, the RMTC committee and membership will assess the feasibility of the floodlighting proposal before consulting further with neighbouring residents, the wider population of the village and the parish council”.
Accordingly, as no planning application has been made, nor is apparently imminent, the council has no decided views either for or against this part of the proposal. When a planning application is made the PC will consider the issue in greater depth and decide what (if any) comment is appropriate. As I am sure you will already know, individual members of the public, including residents and members of the TC can make their own objections and/or comments to the planning officers.
It may be helpful if I clarify that as landlords of the tennis courts and adjacent land, the PC are bound by the terms of the lease to the tennis club. These include among the obligations of the Tenant (i.e. the TC):
“Not to erect any building or other structure on the Premises or any part thereof except as shall be approved as to site dimensions and otherwise by the Landlord or its surveyors”
The law, as we understand it, implies that such consent shall not be unreasonably withheld. (What is “unreasonable” at the end of the day would be a matter for a Court of Law to decide). In other words, as landlords, the PC cannot put forward unreasonable objections to the TC’s plans in this respect. As stated above, councillors feel that the planning officers are the people best placed to weigh all the differing views in the balance. If we usurped the planning process by making objections now, it could be argued that we would be in breach of the terms of the lease.
The councillors have asked me to reassure you that all views from residents will most certainly be taken fully into account in deciding on any response at the planning application stage. It is a difficult balancing act at times to assess village amenities such as sports, against the impact on nearby residents. On the one hand, we do want to encourage people to lead fit and active lives through sport. On the other hand, we are mindful that many want this to remain a quiet residential area.
In conclusion, at the present time councillors neither support nor object to the social area and floodlights. When the planning application is made – at which point the PC hopes to have more detailed proposals to hand – it will consider what its formal response should be.