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There’s been a successful tennis club on Knight’s Hill since 1925 and for decades was also a social and fun meeting place for the whole family. All ages could meet in a garden or clubhouse setting where many a birthday or other happy occasion was celebrated.
Local resident Dan Lockeretz is frustrated by the tennis club’s refusal over recent years to operate the club for the benefit of the neighbourhood, or let others do so. A keen tennis player since his days as a junior at Surbiton Tennis Club, and now playing for Norbury Park’s team, Dan, like many other local residents, has to travel to find an active tennis club, or courts for his kids to have a hit on.
Dan has decided with NAG support to lead a bid to bring the club back as a terrific community resource where everyone can go for sport and relaxation whether on tennis court or squash court, in the clubhouse or relaxing with children in the garden.
The latest planning application is not bound to succeed, particularly as the context has changed markedly. Dan wishes to have a group of enthusiasts in the wings for the day when the planning process is spent and the club addresses the option to open-up again to local residents and revitalise the facilities. Substantial funding has already been promised by a local enthusiast in the event of new management.
Also a nomination has been made with Lambeth Council to have the land and buildings listed as a Community Asset [subsequently successful]. If accepted by Lambeth, this will create additional substance to the campaign as well as opening-up lines for loans and possibly grants.
Does this appeal to you? Love tennis and squash, darts and snooker, a friendly bar and a room for social hire, a real garden for all the family to relax and enjoy barbecues? Imagine new uses too!
Let’s reinvent it! Click here if you would like to show your support for this campaign.
Important - Tell your friends about it too! The maximum number if supporters is essential!
Click on the left for the story of this site.
Update - 26th January 15: Click here for one of the most unusual objections ever to a planning application. It beautifully sums-up the emotional case.
Update - 6th March 15: Planning officers reject the outline planning application - this can only assist the project. However some key factors are acceptable so not all good news.
Update - 12th March 15: Nomination for land and property to be listed as an Asset of Community Value has been approved by Lambeth Council. This increases possibilities for grants and loans.
Update - 2nd April 15: Come to The Portico Gallery, 23a Knight's Hill, on Sunday 5th April from 10 till 4pm and you can discuss our ambitions for this historic club.
Update - 12th May 15: Letter sent to the club with a request to present the document on left to their forthcoming agm.
Update - 14th May 15: The potential developer instigates an appeal against refusal of outline planning permission.
Update - 4th June 15: Our newsletter with survey to update support levels reveals around 900 potential users so far.
Update - 6th June 15: The club did not accept our request to address its agm and replied - click on left.
Update - 17th June 15: Date set for the appeal informal public hearing - 10:00 on Tuesday 4 August 2015 at Lambeth Town Hall, Acre Lane, London, SW2 1RW.
Update - 23rd June 15: Notice received that the club's appeal against Asset of Community Value status, was refused, so this important milestone in our campaign is safe.
Update 25th June 15: Another newsletter to supporters.
Update - 8th July 15: A new planning application has been submitted, the fifth! This differs little from the fourth with a couple of tweaks to try and overcome council objections. They try to wear us down! It's important to register objections yet again as each planning application stands on its own. You can click here to go to the council web site and enter 15/03687/OUT into search and add your objections, or even your support!
Update - 27th July 15: Things are hotting-up! Click here to read of latest events and how you can help before 3rd August or at the appeal on the 4th. Norwood Action Group and Norwood Forum's formal objections to the fifth plan are on the link on the left.
Update - 5th August 15: We were given proper opportunity to make our case at the appeal. The opposition made ponderous going of their case and over-egged some points. The decision depends on how the inspector balances the need for more housing versus acknowledged conflicts with some planning policies. We have a good chance of another appeal that’s ‘not allowed’. Failure of the sport element would be the cherry on the cake! Result in approximately one month. Unpredictable!
Update - 21st August 15: The tennis appeal result is in – dismissed, again. The nature of the decision notice means that it will be very hard for the developers to create a plan that will overcome the appeal inspector’s objections. Regarding the ‘fig-leaf’ sport proposal, the inspector did judge that it’s compliant with soon to be superseded Policy 50. This will be replaced by Policy EN1 which appears to make any reduction of outside sport space non-negotiable.
The terms of the dismissal make it inconceivable that application 5 (which is already in the system) will be approved, and pointless to appeal. Will there be application 6? A long way to go before returning the club to the community can become a reality.
Update - 26th August 15: Our local MP Helen Hayes has said she is “very happy” to support NAG’s campaign. We will be again trying to engage the club (which still has ownership of the land) in exploratory discussions. Ms Hayes’ support can only help.
Update - 5th October 15: October Lambeth planning officers under delegated powers rejected the latest (fifth) application to redevelop the tennis club. Full Decision Notice here.
This decision could be the end of the road for the developers. It’s based on the new Lambeth Local Plan adopted on 23rd September and all seven grounds in combination appear insurmountable. In particular Policy EN1 has been invoked which in itself is fatal, as no way around.
The applicant may take it to appeal (what have they to lose?) but an appeal inspector is most unlikely to overturn all seven grounds; however, they just might want to assert that the need for housing overrides some of the grounds as a prelude for a sixth application.
The developer and the club’s morale must be at a low ebb. There is no end in sight after ten years. The club has ongoing overheads and insufficient income. The property is currently a liability.
We have written three times to the club seeking to discuss possibilities without a positive response. Helen Hayes, our local MP, has offered to intercede to try and promote negotiations. We are closer to succeeding in bringing a revitalised club back to our neighbourhood, but it will still be a long haul.
Update 5th April 2016 - Long suffering residents living around Cheviot Gardens who have already endured years of noisy and disruptive development for the Extra Care Home are now faced with yet another planning application for the redevelopment of the Tennis Club. The latest plans are for replacement tennis club and other sports facilities on ground floor and basement with 32 flats on four floors above. There would be two outdoor tennis courts instead of the current five. If you feel strongly about this please be sure to register your comments HERE before the deadline of May 6th.