Winchelsea Tennis Association
Who we are
The Association was set up to build and run a public tennis court in Winchelsea.
Why Winchelsea needs a public tennis court
The only sports facilities in Winchelsea at the moment are for occasional competitive team games (bowls and cricket). There is no provision for sports that can be played whenever a couple of people wish to exercise or just have fun. Tennis is an ideal game in this respect, but there is no public tennis court in Winchelsea, or anywhere else in the parish, despite the fact that the parish covers four large villages.
The nearest courts to Winchelsea are in Rye, Pett and Westfield. Given the cost of playing at Rye (over £400 for a family), membership there only makes sense for fairly frequent players. Pett and Westfield are only accessible by car, which is not merely inconvenient, but puts tennis beyond the reach of those without cars, including the young and low-income residents. The idea of a tennis court in Winchelsea is to allow residents to walk to the court, which means they can play on the spur of the moment, or when they have only an hour to spare. The cost of membership will also be modest and completely free to local youngsters.
104 residents have signed up to join a future tennis club in Winchelsea as players, which would make it, by far, the largest and most active sports club in the village. Only two of these residents currently belong to a tennis club and a handful of others play tennis regularly, so a tennis court in Winchelsea will lead to a significiant increase in the sport. It is expected that residents of neighbouring villages would also wish to join, and there will be demand from visitors, including families visiting relatives in the village.
The site for the tennis court
There are not many sites in Winchelsea on which a tennis court could be constructed. Nine possibilities have been suggested and investigated. Eight have been ruled out: two by the owners and four by English Heritage. Of the remaining two, one is too remote, contaminated and at risk of flooding; the other is in use as a children's kickabout area, is heavily shaded and has an underground water main crossing it.
The only possible site for a tennis court in Winchelsea, and by far the best and most logical location, is an area of unused ground on the edge of the Cricket Field, behind the New Hall and alongside the Bowls Green. This is owned by the National Trust and leased by the Winchelsea Cricket Club. The Trust have agreed to the court, subject to planning permission and agreement with the Cricket Club.
The Cricket Club supported the proposal when initially approached in 2002 (we have a very nice letter from their President), on the basis of which, we commissioned an archaeological investigation of the site. However, opposition appears to have emerged within the Cricket Club committee, the President was deposed and the Cricket club refused all further contact.
In September 2009, the proposal for a tennis court was relaunched by a new committee, who staged a public exhibition. The Cricket Club re-opened discussions and suggested an alternative site at the northern end of the Cricket Field. The new site was suggested because the Bowls Club have indicated that, at some point in the future, they may wish to expand into the area originally proposed for the tennis court. Unfortunately, the new site has been ruled out by English Heritage and the National Trust, because they believe it would intrude on the view from a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Financing the tennis court
The Association has successfully funded all the work that is required before the construction of a court can begin. This includes the archaeological investigation of the preferred site, the public exhibition of plans and public consultation, and the cost of a formal planning application. Read our accounts.
Money for the construction of the court (about £25,000) will be raised from members and grants. The Association is very confident that sufficient grants are available.
Once the tennis court is built, it will have to be maintained. Using LTA figures, it is estimated that a public tennis court in Winchelsea will have more than enough members to cover its running costs.
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The AssociationThe Winchelsea Tennis Association was formally established in January 2004 under a constitution based on Rother District Council’s model constitution for sports clubs. The current committee is:
Public exhibition, September 2009In order to relaunch the project to build a public tennis court in Winchelsea, the WTA staged an exhibition on the project. This set out the case for a public tennis court, looked at the alternative sites and chronicled the history of the project. The exhibition can be viewed here.