Thursday 18 January 2024

On 18 January 2024 the BCP Planning Committee approved without objection the club’s planning application to build 3 padel tennis court with floodlights.   A series of “town hall” meetings will be arranged for members at which details of the scheme will be presented for information. The development proposal will then be put forward to the club trustees for final approval. Thereafter the club will finalise a construction contract with its chosen supplier, with a view to opening the courts in the spring. We will also move towards contract negotiations for the resurfacing of the club driveway which we hope will be completed later in the year.  


Tuesday 23 January 2024

Following communication to members about padel tennis, the board would like to invite all members to a town hall meeting to be held in the clubhouse on Sunday 28 January 2024 at 5pm. Details of any subsequent meetings, if required, will follow. The purpose of the meeting is to present information to members about the padel tennis project so that the board take into account any member feedback before deciding whether to approve the project.    

This introductory note provides high level information for members to consider prior to the meeting.

The club started looking at Padel more than 5 years ago including meeting with the LTAs head of padel. Many on the board were not convinced it would be financially viable. Since lockdown the game has become the fastest growing sport in the UK and Europe. It is fun, easy to play, accessible for all ages, is much less technical than tennis, and the smaller court size and closer proximity to other players promotes greater social interaction and mental health wellbeing.

In 2022, the board formed the Padel Development Group which included members with construction and finance experience, and representatives from sections. The group researched by way of visit or by phone many padel sites in the UK, and clubs similar in size, ethos and demographics to learn from their experiences of their own construction projects and subsequent operation of the sport, all of which were very positive. All advised us to go ahead.

ClubSpark booking statistics show the difficulty of justifying nine tennis grass courts. The Tennis Committee is happy to release courts for padel.  We have approval to build 3 outdoor uncovered padel courts with floodlights on the site of the 3 standalone grass tennis courts in the cage. They will initially be operated on a pay & play basis which will not confer membership of the club. Final arrangements for pricing and bookings have not yet been confirmed but club members will have preferences over non-members.

Construction work could start as soon as mid-February and be finished in eight weeks.  We have engaged a professional construction contract project manager who has helped with the selection of our prefered supplier. Bids have been received from 4 companies with padel experience and we will agree the final contract should the board give its approval for the project.

Total project cost £320k, including fees and contingencies. Financed by council grant £50k, LTA 5-year interest free loan £150k and by club funds £120k. Post this and the driveway project, the club will still have a healthy cash position. Payback on the LTA loan could be done in 2 years and on the project investment in 3 years.  The additional income stream will in future allow the club to undertake other infrastructure projects such as clubhouse improvements, etc.

The driveway project to follow on this year after padel and will create additional parking. 

The LTA would like at some point that we try a tennis pay & play (P&P) scheme. This would only operate on a limited number of courts, at times when courts were quiet and there was already adequate availability for our own club members. It is up to us to devise the terms and procedures that would work for our members and not compromise our existing operations and members' experience; for example, P&P players might only be able to book courts 2 days in advance. Many tennis members are unaware that for some time we have operated ad hoc schemes eg tennis holidays on the grass courts, holidaying members from other LTA clubs, visitors and private groups by prior arrangement, Sunday afternoon tournaments etc etc without any major impact or even awareness from members. We do have a lot of spare capacity especially during the middle of the day on a number of weekdays, and Sunday afternoons, and on the grass courts at many times.  The LTA are interested in increasing tennis participation and we believe we can do this without impacting existing play.

The board is highly supportive of this initiative but welcomes members' feedback at the meeting before proceeding.


Monday 29 January 2024

The Board were delighted to have such strong attendance at the Town Hall meeting on Sunday, with over 50 members present, some valuable discussion regarding the padel proposal and some helpful comments as well as member concerns raised.  After lengthy discussion, all present were asked to give a show of hands, with around 50 in support of the project, only 5 objecting and a few abstaining.

A board meeting was held this afternoon at which the Board unanimously approved to proceed with the proposed development, based on all the analysis presented to the Board and the overwhelming support from the meeting with members.

The Board will now finalise the necessary contracts and it is hoped that work will start by the end of February.  Once the work has started, we would expect the groundworks to take approximately 5 weeks and the court construction 3 weeks.    

The Board has not yet decided on the exact details of the padel pay-and-play model, but both members and non members will pay for court bookings however it is expected that non members will pay an additional booking membership fee and members will be given preferential booking rights over non-members.  

The Board also recognises the need to address many of the issues that were raised during the Town Hall meeting on Sunday, not least the day-to-day management of padel, the transit of non-members, signage to and from the padel courts, the clubhouse facilities and the sharing of the Board's longer-term vision for the club.   

Further details will follow in due course, in particular when we have finalised the contracts and we have a better idea of the timeframe for the construction work.    

Further information on timings will be published once they are available.