Building work is underway on Phase One of a major new multi-million pound ten-court tennis centre in Harrogate.
Construction work follows almost ten years searching for a site and complex planning and funding negotiations by Spa Lawn Tennis Club whose chairman, Nigel Bentley, has worked on the scheme virtually full time since retiring in 2011.
Phase One follows exchange of contracts for the new Harrogate Spa Tennis Centre to lease land at Harrogate High School with six full-size outdoor courts due to be in use in August. The partnership will see the centre being used by students choosing tennis as part of their curriculum studies and being taught by professional coaches.
The establishment of the new centre will allow Spa Lawn Tennis Club, which was founded in 1947 and has about 100 members, to leave its base in Kent Drive, owned by The Duchy of Lancaster, where the tennis facilities are no longer appropriate for the modern game.
Negotiations for the new centre – a new company entity with charitable status – have involved Spa Lawn Tennis Club obtaining planning consent from Harrogate Council for 13 homes on its Kent Drive site and relinquishing its lease. All legal contract work on behalf of the tennis club has been handled by Barber Titleys solicitors, Harrogate
Three of the new courts will feature floodlit artificial grass with a further three tarmac courts. Phase One also includes a new access through Claro Park, the re-location of the club’s temporary club house, a car park and taking utility services to the site. The work is being carried out by Harrogate-based building contractors, HACS Group, and will cost several hundred thousand pounds.
Phase Two of the development of the tennis centre, which is subject to securing further funding, aims to provide four indoor courts, changing rooms, café/bar, a gymnasium and a table tennis suite, and to start by the year end.
Nigel Bentley, who was a volunteer Games Maker at London 2012, says: Tennis is a fantastic, inclusive sport but, if it is to thrive at grassroots level, we have to broaden its appeal.
We currently have members aged from five to 87 but the membership is declining because the basic facilities are inadequate for the modern game. This spurred the search for new premises and the opportunity to develop significantly enhanced facilities.
For UK tennis to prosper we need to create more centres attractive to young and old and where people can play all year. The Lawn Tennis Association supports the new centre and provided funding for the planning process and a bridging loan for the initial development.
Getting this far has been highly complex but worthwhile as the scheme has huge potential for tennis and table tennis in Harrogate. We could not have got this far without Barber Titleys first-rate support and advice.”
Head of property at Barber Titleys, Richard Davis, a partner, says: “Nigel Bentley and Spa Lawn Tennis Club need congratulating on their vision of the future for tennis in Harrogate and sticking with this hugely complex task which we hope can help the town nurture many more tennis players, and who knows, perhaps a future Wimbledon winner.”