Reader letter: ‘We should have been consulted over Cromer tennis hub plan’

Plans for a £3.2m community sports hub in Cromer have been submitted. Image: NORTH NORFOLK DISTRICT

Plans for a £3.2m community sports hub in Cromer have been submitted. Image: NORTH NORFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

Dear Editor,

I am sure that you are well aware of North Norfolk District Council's (NNDC) proposal to build three indoor tennis courts in Cromer.

As a member of Cromer Lawn Tennis and Squash Association (CLTSA) I am appalled that a planning submission that includes transfer of land (currently included in the lease to CLTSA) has been submitted and is expected to be given approval without the members of CLTSA being consulted over the long-term effect that this will have on the club.

I wish to make it clear that all the members I have spoken to are in favour of the idea of indoor courts. However, does this have to be at the cost of the destruction of a thriving volunteer run club? CLTSA gives a warm welcome to new players, whether it be tennis, squash, racket ball and table tennis. As well as an enthusiastic membership, the Club is heavily used by the public. The Club also has a scheme that enables parents to play FREE with their children if their children are members. The Club is renowned for its warm welcome to players and teams from all over the country.

It appears that a survey has been carried out on behalf of NNDC to ascertain the viability of the proposed project. However, this survey is being withheld from public scrutiny and has only been shown to a select few who are trying to force this through.

In order for the plans for the 'Hub' to go ahead CLTSA must release from their lease two of their four hard courts and this land will transfer to Cromer Academy.

This will then leave the tennis club with only two tennis courts that can be played on all year, as the grass courts are only available between May and early September.

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This means that CLTSA would receive NO benefit from this transaction. It would mean that the club has only two courts for the membership to play on (bearing in mind that on a club morning they often need three courts).

At present there appears to be a lot of pressure being applied to the three trustees to sign the land transfer over to the Academy. The members have not been given the opportunity to fully discuss this issue and it would appear that this will go ahead without the approval of the members. As a result of this there are a number of members who have stated that they will not be renewing their membership if the 'Hub' goes ahead on the current terms.

As far as anyone knows there has been no feasibility study on what effect this would have on CLTSA. Not only would there be far fewer members but the income from the clubhouse would fall significantly. This would then lead to the club losing money and probably having to close (after 100 years). If this were to happen then under the current lease to CLTSA the NNDC could then take back the lease and do with the land whatever it wanted.

The proposed cost of the 'Hub' is currently projected to be £3.2 million with £2.4 million pounds coming from NNDC's rate payers' money. The LTA have not yet confirmed the balance of the funding. NNDC are seeking planning permission on Thursday 6th September to build these indoor courts. Common sense would surely suggest that this application needs to be delayed until NNDC comes up with a better solution. Wider consultation is needed to ensure the best use of rate payers' money and a win-win situation for everybody: an indoor tennis centre run by NNDC / Cromer Academy and a thriving independent volunteer run club providing much cheaper outdoor facilities with four hard courts for winter use.

Kevin Wardle