Plans to build two new padel courts at Harrogate sports centre submitted
Jan 25, 2024

Harrogate Sports and Fitness Club has submitted a planning application to build two covered padel tennis courts, as well as 92 additional parking spaces, at the site.

The application, which was submitted to North Yorkshire Council in December, outlines plans to build the new courts on land owned by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

The development would be built opposite the existing fitness centre building, on land currently used as car parking space,  near Hookstone Woods.

The application also seeks permission to expand current parking provisions, which would be open for use 80 days of the year.

James Gaston, manager of Harrogate Sports and Fitness Club, told the Stray Ferret:

“The application seeks to redevelop a small area of existing hardstanding with two additional fully enclosed all-weather padel tennis courts, as the existing courts on site are currently at capacity and oversubscribed for use by HSFC members, Active Against Cancer patients, and pay-and-play users.

“The proposals will future proof the club and build on its successes to date, while ensuring both of the proposed elements of this application are sympathetic and complementary to the landscape.”

The site plan for the proposed new courts and parking space.

However, the application has received mixed reactions.

97 people have left public comments on the council’s consultation, 67 of whom publicly supported the plans and felt it would improve people’s physical and mental health.

Clare Hedges, who gave her “full support” of the proposal, wrote:

“Having the two extra courts will most likely encourage more families to join the club.

“It is important that children are encouraged to take up sports for physical and mental health reasons, and having more facilities in what is already a very family-friendly, sociable club, will encourage more families to join.”

Other supporters felt the additional two courts would help meet increasing demand for the game. Michael Richards commented:

“The existing courts are very well used at HSFC, especially the covered court which can be played throughout the whole of the year, unlike the uncovered court which can only really be played on dry days normally during the summer months.

“Adding 2 further covered courts will increase playable capacity significantly and enable more people to play racquet sports for many more years than might otherwise be possible with the commensurate benefits of aerobic sport and social interaction.

“I fully support this proposal.”


Despite the support, the application has also received several objections.

One objecting resident, Alan Golob, said the space is “precious” to local wildlife and would have a “detrimental effect” on it, if plans were approved:

“The site of the proposed development is on the edge of an area of ancient woodland, one of the few remaining in Harrogate. It is an area that contains a number of waterfowl and birds, including a kingfisher.

“This space is precious to all those creatures and those people who use it in a responsible manner for walking their dogs etc.

“The noise created by the padel boards would reverberate throughout the entirety of the woods and have a detrimental effect on all species of birds that live there. It would entirely change the atmosphere for people who use that woodland as well.”

Former Harrogate Borough Councillor Chris Beard, who volunteers as part of the Hookstone and Stonefall Action Group, said he does not object to the development, but objects “only to the location”. He added:

“I have always considered the siting and the location of such facilities should not adversely affect the local environment or adjacent residents.

“However, in this particular case of the siting of the additional courts to a belt of trees, it is probable that it would disturb the wildlife of this locality – Hookstone Wood (light pollution and noise).”

Mr Beard said the proposed structures would also have a “visual impact” on the area and would be “far less intrusive” if they were grouped with the existing courts.

In response to the objections raised, Mr Gaston also said:

“Green space, light pollution, woodland and traffic have all been considered within the plan to ensure there’s minimal or no impact.
“We will cap membership numbers and stagger the court opening times to minimise traffic and additional car parking will be utilising space already available.
“We have great community support for our vision but we are also aware of concerns from residents and are doing all we can to ensure the site is sympathetic to their needs too.”

North Yorkshire Council will adjudicate on the plans at a later date.

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