Campaigners have raised furious objections against proposals by a Lanarkshire tennis club to develop a local green space.
The Rutherglen Tennis Club (RTC) is keen to transform part of Overtoun Park into all-season indoor courts which they say will be an “aced” addition to the area.
However, a group of residents believe the plans will remove an area that could be used by all residents.
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In September, the South Lanarkshire Council (SLC) awarded the club “Mandate Leaders” for the land, meaning they could push forward with their proposal, including plans to set up a cafe there for the community.
The plans were greeted when they were first announced by Judy Murray, who expressed her willingness to capitalize on the success of her sons Andy and Jamie to create a legacy for tennis in Scotland.
Susan McGinley, who heads the Save the green space of Overtoun parks for the future group, told Lanarkshire Live of serious concerns about the upcoming development.
She told us: “The proposal to install a private tennis club for members on the ground has not even been communicated to residents or users of the municipal park.
“If the board wanted to develop the land, there should have been an open and transparent process for all interested parties to submit proposals for consideration.
“The world and our views have changed dramatically in recent times.
“The lockdown has made us value our local green outdoor space more than ever and it is very much appreciated. We cannot continue to clean up sites to build more, especially when we have many sites that could be reused all over Rutherglen.
“Public Health Scotland consistently emphasizes the benefits of going outdoors for our physical and mental health, but here we are with the proposed loss of more green space.”
The group say the land could be invested for a wider range of sports, rather than just tennis, citing the BMX zone in the park as a prime example.
Susan added, “In an ideal world we would like the board to improve the BMX part. It is now a gold medalist Olympic sport and has been neglected for decades.
“Having a private club to develop the land has only relieved the lack of investment in parks and recreation services in Rutherglen for years now.
“We want to see a real investment from the board.
“Much of the park has been eroded in living memory. We now have private sheltered housing, private care homes, the bowling club is now privately run and the land next to it is fenced and leased to Grow 73 .
“Now we have a private tennis club that wants to take up space. I feel like that’s enough.”
The Overtoun Park group, which has more than 100 members, has already spoken to the Green Party to gain political support for its campaign.
However, RTC officials insist the new facility would not be members-only and believe the plans could help other sports as well.
RTC President Gareth Ellor told us, “We want a facility that the whole community can enjoy.
“We’re a tennis club, so we’re going to focus on tennis, but there is a lot of space in the proposed facility that can be used for other things.
“Coffee will be at the heart of it all – we had 679 responses to our own survey and 85% said they would use coffee.
“There will be public toilets, which the park does not currently have, and we are also looking at pool tables, ping-pong tables and foosball tables there – this can be a place for the kids and teens.
“I hear a lot on social media that there was a land grab by a posh tennis club, but we’re not for profit and we want tennis to be really accessible.
“We had Cambuslang Harriers talking to us about how they could use the facilities and the Glasgow South Table Tennis Club spoke to us as well.
“The project is not that far away, and the layout, the design, the aesthetics are still to be worked out before returning to the Council. We are happy to tell anyone about it.”
In August 2020, Judy Murray got excited about the plans, saying: “If only we had more clubs as visionary, ambitious, proactive and welcoming as Rutherglen, tennis in Scotland would be in a much stronger position.”
An annual club membership costs £ 216, but the proposal would also see courts available on a pay-as-you-play basis.
The SLC said it had been in discussions with the RTC “for some time” about its plans for Overtoun Park, confirming that they had leased land from the club for it on September 29.
A spokesperson told us, “The proposals will require planning consent and more details on the design, construction, parking and operation of the facility will be required before an application can be submitted for formal review. .
“With regard to Overtoun Park as a whole, we have invested in this popular and important public green space in recent years, including its play facilities and our work with a local group to develop a subdivision site on a plot of land. disused balls.
“We will continue to work with all local groups to ensure that the park continues to thrive for the benefit of local communities. “
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