A controversial plan to build new homes on tennis courts has been turned down by a Government planning inspector.

Developer North West London Properties had wanted to build eight houses on two courts belonging to Templars Lawn Tennis Club in St Andrew’s Road, Golders Green.

After the plans were rejected by Finchley and Golders Green area planning committee in November last year, the developer appealed to the planning inspectorate to overturn the decision.

The developer claimed the members-only tennis club had a dwindling membership and could not be considered a community sports facility.

But opponents of the plans claimed the tennis club had been deliberately run down and few attempts had been made to attract new members.

Editor's note: The former members of the management council of the tennis club wrote asking to point out that they wrote a letter, published in the print edition last November, vigorously denying the claims that the membership had been deliberately run down.

In a decision notice published on July 4, planning inspector Paul Cooper dismissed the appeal and said the tennis club seemed to have been “marketed for its value as a potential housing site rather than as a community facility”.

Mr Cooper said: “I am not convinced that sufficient work has taken place in order to publicise the club as a positive facility for the community.”

He added: “It would be possible for refurbishment of the existing facilities to take place, if an operator were to come forward, given the identified need for such facilities.”

The developer had pledged to retain three of the tennis courts and turn one of them into a “multi-use games area”, as well as putting £75,000 towards tennis facilities at Princes Park and Lyttelton Playing Fields.

But Mr Cooper said that while the council would “undoubtedly” welcome improvements elsewhere, “this does not outweigh the loss of a long-established community facility within a residential area, where an identified need has been highlighted”.

The proposals were found to run counter to several planning policies.

The planning inspectorate’s decisions can be challenged at the High Court if appellants believe it has made a “legal mistake”.


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