Belsize Park's Globe tennis club told not to expect 'special favours' as lease bid rejected
PUBLISHED: 11:49 13 September 2017 | UPDATED: 11:49 13 September 2017
A Belsize Park tennis club has been told not to expect any "special favours" in its fight to renew its lease.
Members of the Globe Lawn Tennis Club accused Camden Council at a town hall meeting on Monday of wanting to close the Haverstock Hill venue down in order to develop the site for housing.
Globe committee member Howard Lock said: “We understand the need for housing, but the price we will all pay is loss of leisure and open space.
“Please focus on the dozens of other sites you have rather than go for a soft target,” he added.
Mr Lock went on to say the club needed a 15 year lease to guarantee funding from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), the sport’s UK governing body, and enable it to carry out improvement work and continue to subsidise coaching.
However, Cllr Phil Jones, responsible for planning at the council, told members of the club – who presented a petition signed by 2,000 supporters as part of their appeal – it would be “grossly unfair” on other community organisations who under council policy have three year break clauses written into their leases allowing their sites to be reclaimed for development.
“We are not seeking redevelopment of the site and have been flexible in seeking a compromise. However, we cannot do special favours,” Cllr Jones said.
He added the Haverstock Hill club failed to provide evidence a break clause would have an impact on its ability to fundraise and had turned down a seven year lease offer which would, he claimed, have secured the Globe LTA funding.
But the club’s supporters allege Cllr Jones misled councillors saying the council was sent a letter by the LTA president Martin Corrie on August 11 in which he called for the break clause to be removed.
In the letter Mr Corrie states: “I do hope you are able to reconsider your decision and remove the requirement for a break
option, thus securing the club’s future for the full 15 year term of the lease, enabling it to access funding and reaffirming the extent of its contribution to tennis in London.”
Frognal and Fitzjohns safer neighbourhood panel chair Jessica Learmond-Criqui said: “It is deeply concerning that a cabinet member would make a public statement to a full council meeting which seemed different to information his office received and which has been reiterated again and again to him.
“This point has been widely aired in the media and among all councillors and yet Cllr Jones has not once asked to see a copy of the letter (if indeed he had never seen it before).
“This casts a stark light on the whole question of what he is doing with the planning portfolio and an immediate inquiry into the position of the Globe should be conducted by the council leader,” she added.
Responding after Monday’s meeting, Cllr Jones said: “The Council has offered the club a 15 year lease with a break provision in its favour at the seventh year as a workable compromise.
“It is council policy for all leases to voluntary organisation partners to include break provisions and so has to be consistent and fair in ensuring the same for the tennis club.
“We have contacted the LTA to help us understand whether the seven year break clause would be acceptable to them as a funder and are waiting on a response.
“At present we have not been provided with sufficient evidence to support the claim that the club cannot continue to raise funds and exist with a 15 year lease with a break provision at the seventh year.
“Numerous other local voluntary organisation partners have proven in practice to be able to continue to raise funds and provide good local services from council properties with leases which contain break provisions,” he added.