Church remains opposed to tennis court car park

PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 September 2013

Grove Park tennis courts.

Grove Park tennis courts.

Archant

AN APPLICATION to convert Grove Park's tennis courts into parking for nearly 100 cars has been submitted, despite church officials refusing to give consent for the conversion.

North Somerset Council has handed the planning application to officers in a bid to rip up the sports facility and extend the neighbouring car park.

However, although the authority owns the land, it remains subject to a 124-year-old covenant, held by St John’s Church, which ringfenced the land for recreational use.

This effectively means the former owner, the Diocese of Bath and Wells, still gets the final say on how the land is used.

The council has applied to change the use of the courts to provide 86 additional spaces and create a bigger pay-and-display car park for a two-year trial period.

But the Mercury has received confirmation from the diocese that it has not agreed to relax its covenent, and members of St John’s Parochial Church Council (PCC) remain opposed to the idea.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Bath and Wells, said: “There is considerable local opposition to the proposal that the use of the land be changed for car parking.

“The restrictive covenant envisaged the land would be used for recreational purposes in perpetuity. This fact remains.

“The diocese has not agreed any terms with the council.”

The application states two pay-and-display machines will be installed, with the potential of a mast mounted CCTV camera being added at a later date if the temporary trial becomes permanent.

A petition, which includes 236 signatures, to save the tennis courts has previously been handed to executive council members by ward councillors in a bid to save the last publicly-owned sporting facility in the town centre.

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