Plans for new sports court in Guildford refused because 'players are too noisy'

Man standing with a padel racket in an enclosed court. (Credit: Unsplash/Tomasz Krawczyk)
-Credit: (Image: (Credit: Unsplash/Tomasz Krawczyk))

Guildford's sports enthusiasts were left disappointed as plans for new padel courts were rejected by the borough council. Plans for four padel courts in a Surrey field were rejected over concerns that exuberant players and a loud ball would create too much noise, disturbing the peace of the nearby village.

Two applications were refused by an overwhelming majority at a planning meeting at Guildford Borough Council on Wednesday, June 19. Padel, a mix between tennis and squash, is usually played on an enclosed court surrounded by walls of glass and metallic mash. Rapidly growing in popularity over the last few years, it was put to the committee that there was a demand in having the sport facilities.

But planning officers recommended both plans for refusal, as it would have a “detrimental visual impact on the character of the area” as well as harming the openness of the green belt. Exceptional circumstances to develop on the green belt were not accepted by officers.

The applications together received over 400 letters of support, and 74 objections. Comments included the padel courts would be a much welcomed sport facility for the community which could support the health and wellbeing of locals. Others said they are on waiting lists for padel clubs or have to drive at least 20 miles out of the borough to play.

Read more: General election 2024: Guildford candidates were given 100 words to sell themselves to you

Guildford councillors said they were “sympathetic” and acknowledged a need for sports centres in the community but were concerned about the impact of noise and light pollution on the adjoining community.

“The level of noise is above and beyond any level of sport,” said Parish Councillor Bridget Carter-Manning, speaking against the proposal. She added there was no noise disturbance report in the application.

The sound of the ball rebounding from the court’s walls means padel sport is at least twice as loud as tennis, although estimates vary. Noise restrictions have been put in place in Padel courts after complaints to Brighton and Hove council and Enfield council.

Objecting to the application, one resident said: “Padel is noisy [and] excited players can't be expected to play in silence.” They added that the surrounding village is semi-rural and will be disturbed by noise.

Concerns around floodlighting being on until 10pm was also an issue for officers and locals. External lighting could impact the ‘darker skies’ area and may have an impact on wildlife, such as bats.

Speaking at the meeting, resident John Miles said the flood lights could be ten times stronger than the average street light, meaning sunsets and views could be “permanently disturbed”.

Wade Disley, the applicant, said he has been trying to build the court for two years, to “do good in the community" and bring padel to more people. He said in the meeting: “Are you going to support the local community and the growth of a new sport, the impact on climate change and are you going to improve road safety with my applications?”

He also flagged that it is "inevitable" that the proposal would be on green belt as Guildford borough is mostly Green Belt, so building new facilities on available land is hard to find.

One application was for four uncovered padel courts, and the other was for two covered and two uncovered courts, on land behind a cottage in Eashing Lane, Milford. The field is currently used by the occupants of Meadow Barn Cottage and has football goal posts, according to the officers' report.

Plans for the site also included a reception building, two portacabins for toilets and showers, vehicle access and car parking.

Got a story you want to share? Email