Chipstead tennis club under threat if protected tree is not given chop

by | Dec 1, 2014 | Featured Slider, Latest, News

Ranking among the tallest trees in the district this Giant Redwood tree cuts an impressive shape against the skyline.

But its sheer scale may yet be its downfall as its roots have put one court – soon to be two – at Chipstead Lawn Tennis Club out of action – something bosses claim could spell their demise.

An application has been made to Sevenoaks District Council for the tree at The Old Garden site to be dismantled and replaced with a 25-foot ‘habitat pole’.

“We’ve made every effort not to damage the tree so this is not a decision we’ve taken lightly – we feel this is a last resort,” chairman of the club David Pettitt told the Chronicle.

 “We are just about surviving at the moment, but to carry on this way would mean coaching would have to be cut back and we’d lose members, which is obviously not good for the club.

“We’re reaching the point where it’s the tree or us.”

 Minor repairs have been made to the courts over a number of years until they were no longer effective or suitable.

Then, 18 months ago £10,000 was paid out of club savings for a non-invasive root barrier in the hope it would be enough to hold off the problem for a few more years but continue to uphold the Tree Preservation Order on the Redwood.

 But already the problem is persisting leaving one of the courts too dangerous to play on.

“The problem is that the massive redwood is right next to our courts,” Mr Pettitt said.

 “We just can’t play teams on the damaged courts and we can’t afford to keep paying out thousands for temporary solutions.

“We have got four courts, 200 members and coaching for 200 kids and if we can’t address the problem, we’ll be less one if not two courts and that will impact the club financially.”

 The tennis facility can no longer hold two matches per day and as “the lifeblood of the club” if the problem is not addressed, the committee fears membership will plummet.

“If we can’t regain use of all of the courts then we won’t be able to play the matches and the numbers of kids we coach would have to be cut as well.

 “This will impact financially on their coach.

“We’re really hoping that the council will be sympathetic.

 “A number of neighbours have said in the past that they’ve been worried about the stability of the tree and that they think one day it might fall.”

Mr Pettitt added: “I don’t know how likely that is, but if it did happen, they would consider us responsible so there are a number of things that have got us to this point.

 “Now we’re just waiting for a decision.”

A decision on the future of the tree is expected from council officers on December 29.