Whangaparāoa Tennis Club has been seeking to expand on Edith Hopper Reserve, Manly, for more than a decade and recently the proposal was put again to the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board.
The club’s plan to add two more courts cannot be progressed until the local board allows it to increase its leased area into the public reserve. The club can fund the project itself, with sponsors’ support.
The idea has met with opposition from the local board in the past, because of Auckland Council’s desire for multi-use facilities and reluctance to lose green space.
Club president Alf Sayer told the board at its meeting on October 21 that more courts are needed and the club is ready to make it happen, at no cost to ratepayers.
Currently the club has 160 senior and 150 junior players – a maximum of 24 players fit on six courts.
Although junior numbers have fallen a little due to Covid-19 restrictions and the resulting uncertainties around this year’s interclub competitions, Sayers believes that the club will emerge stronger than ever.
“More people are being attracted to tennis because it can be played within Level 3 limitations,” he says.
The two new courts would be available to the public as well as members – as the existing six courts are (when Covid-19 Alert levels allow). Additional courts would also enable two interclub matches to be played simultaneously – an advantage when the region is short of court space.
As recently as 2019, the local board rejected the club’s proposal to expand, favouring court sharing with nearby Hibiscus Coast Netball.
A $25,000 feasibility report into court sharing, released more than 18 months ago, is still on the table but the options in it would cost millions of dollars and take considerable time to achieve, Sayers says.
“We are still working with netball, and happy to do so, but netball is not in a position right now to take that forward. Simply, we need a decision and support from the local board to enable the tennis club to deliver these two extra courts now,” he says.
In response, local board members asked Council staff to report back to them on the lease, including a timeline for any renegotiations.
Sayers considers this a step in the right direction. He says the multi-sport model is a narrow view.
“Our contention is that multi-use is already there in Edith Hopper Reserve – there’s a playground, Bridge Club, netball courts, football pitch and tennis. We could turn an unused piece of boggy grass into an improved club and community facility. What is there not to like?”
Backstories: March 1, 2019, July 15, 2020