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Tennis Club Needs To Relocate As Redevelopment Plans Are Called ‘Out’

A ninety-nine year old sports institution is looking for a new home; club member and BBC Young Reporter Hal investigates.

A rainy winters day at Caversham lawn tennis club • © Reading School

• by Hal R-D

A ninety-nine year old sports institution is looking for a new home; club member and BBC Young Reporter Hal investigates.

Caversham Lawn Tennis Club, which celebrates its centenary in 2020, has voted to move venues following the rejection of their planning application for floodlights.

After nighty nine years at the same site in Caversham the members of the local tennis club have taken the opportunity to move after an important planning application was declined.

Rival clubs around Berkshire have recently been expanding their facilities so Katherine Pike, a trustee of CLTC who is also involved in the management team, explains that Caversham is moving to: “Attract a lot of new members and to be able to expand and cover the costs of the running of the club”.

Katherine Pike also said she felt “Nervous, excited and responsible, Why? Nervous - we need to retain all our existing members at the new site … Responsible - as part of the Move Planning Committee it is up to me and my colleagues to put everything in place for the move and to ensure we have the club design and set up that will be suited to the way we want our club to look”.

The club recognised that floodlights were a way to keep up with the improving facilities elsewhere. The planning application said that floodlights would provide “an enhanced recreational resource…. increase opportunity for juniors to play….and members returning from work”. The club also claimed that over the past century it’s provided an “important contribution to the health and well-being of the local community”.

The planning application looked set to be approved by Reading Borough Council until twelve objections from nearby neighbours led to the plans being blocked. Neighbours of the club had rallied with one resident stating in their objection how the redevelopment would have a “detrimental effect…on the lives and wellbeing of the surrounding long-standing local community.” Others objected to the planning application by expressing fears of the damaging effect additional noise and light would have on their families: “the club is located in a suburban residential area and is surrounded on all sides by residential property……. a coaching centre is incongruous”.

Whilst Vivien Jameson, also a close neighbour to the club, said she felt: “sad, I’d much prefer the area to stay as a tennis club, people need exercise”. She explained that some of her next-door neighbours felt the same although others obviously have different views.

An excellent view of 4 courts at Caversham Lawn Tennis Club

Now the club was faced with a big question.

Should the club sell up and move, to enjoy new facilities elsewhere?

Should the club stay in its local environment and serve the community?

To stay would maintain the club in its historic environment, serving its local community. One of Sport England’s objectives is to “ensure the right facilities are provided in the right places”. Caversham is a densely populated village, with the club providing community resources for old and young.

A vote was held in the evening of 14th November at Caversham Tennis Clubhouse and the members chose to move seventy nine votes to forty four.

Some existing members express optimism. Ravinder Johal, junior representative says: “I feel it will enable the club to develop further, have better facilities and become a better club.”

Katherine Pike who has been a member since she was fifteen and a pupil at a school in the town, says she is “Excited - what a challenge - we will have a great facility and we should be able to play lots of tennis all year round under floodlights and indoors.”.

Sarah Baker, a team captain was less confident: “I would have preferred to stay at our existing venue if we had been able to get floodlights agreed but as we haven’t, I think it is best that we move otherwise we will no longer be one of Berkshire’s top performing clubs, attracting top players.

The club is now preparing for the move which members hope will happen within the next few years. The club will move when new facilities are built at proposed site of Caversham Heath golf club, but the tennis club is still looking for a buyer for the current location within the next few months.