Northampton’s tennis club manager says the municipality’s 11-month delay in relation to the planning application to improve the facilities is “slapping in the face”

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A Northampton tennis club manager said he feels he is being “slapped in the face” by the council due to a delayed planning application to improve the facilities.

Plans to improve facilities at the popular Northampton Lawn Tennis Club (NLTC) in Weston Favell have been on hold throughout 2021 due to a lack of response from the West Northamptonshire Council (WNC), the club claims.

This was told by NLTC’s head coach Simon Gallo Chronicle & Echo of the impact the delay has on members and volunteers.

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NLTC head coach Simon Gallo

He said: “We are proud to be a friendly, inclusive community club and we are looking to expand so that new and existing members can enjoy the physical and well – being benefits of playing tennis.

“Our club is run by a team of generous, dedicated volunteers who are motivated to see both children and adults thrive in many different ways.

“Being ignored by the council in this way feels like a real slap in the face and hugely counterintuitive.

“They should definitely support all sections of society that improve the fitness and mental health of the people of this city.”

Laura Yardley says it’s her “medicine” to join the beginner group at NLTC

Simon said he first got in touch with the council in January and asked for advice on the planning application, but received no response.

He says he was left “disappointed” but decided to continue making plans before submitting the application and paying the required fee in April.

After receiving confirmation of the application on May 13, he sent further inquiries in June and July, but still received no response.

Simon said he was ‘getting more and more frustrated’ and sent an email to the portfolio holder for planning on October 15th.

He says that he has since followed up with the council on several occasions and has only received a restraining order. To this date, the club is ‘no longer advancing’.

Simon said: “It was never my intention to publish this, but I feel like I have no other choice after waiting 11 months for someone to answer me.

“How many other community projects have been put on hold because of this backlog? I owe it to my members, coaches and volunteers to do everything I can to bring this situation forward.”

The WNC was contacted for a comment Tuesday morning but had not responded at the time of publication of this story.

The club added that it has more than 350 members, with a junior program of 180 children playing weekly.

The proposed expansion would mean that the NLTC could build on its existing handicap tennis program and increase the offer to schools, “helping students who otherwise do not have the opportunity to try the sport”.

Laura Yardley, who attended one of the beginner session tennis groups after the first national lockdown, said: “After not picking up a tennis racket since school, I did not know what to expect when I showed up at the NLTC after the lockdown, but I could not have received a warmer welcome.

“I joined a beginner group and found the coaching available and fun. By doing this, I have created a new friendship group and support network.

“As a mental health nurse, I know the importance of well-being and tennis is now like my medicine.”

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