University netball court scheme approved despite neighbour noise and lighting fears

Netball facilities at the University of Wolverhampton will be enhanced to boost the sport in the region despite fears raised by nearby residents.

The netball courts at the Walsall campus. Photo: Google
The netball courts at the Walsall campus. Photo: Google

The university was given the go-ahead to introduce new floodlights, as well as additional seating and fencing, to courts at its Gorway campus in Walsall.

In the application, university chiefs said the enhanced facility will enable it to cater for West Midlands League level all the way down to grassroots and the plan had been backed by national netball and sports bodies.

But residents living nearby told a Walsall Council planning committee the increased noise and lighting would have a negative impact on their lives.

Despite the objections, the majority of the committee voted in favour of the application at a meeting on April 1.

Member Councillor Stephen Craddock said: “We’ve got an application here to provide a first class sporting facility within the borough.

“We’ve got the Commonwealth Games next year and this will all be part of the legacy going forward.”

Artist impression of how the new seating and fencing will look at the outdoor netball courts (Image: University of Wolverhampton)

Resident Paul Tudor said: “This is a quiet area but this proposal will change this significantly. The impact by the introduction of lighting up to 10pm will be on our work, our rest and our sleep.

“A clear view of the courts can be seen by mine and other living rooms. Similarly the adjacent student accommodation could become a viewing gallery which may be unnerving for netball players.

“Due to noise, we will be unable to open windows and ventilation indoors is key, as we all know at the moment, for virus transmission and good mental health.

“Main parking is in the diagonally opposite corner of the campus from the courts. And alternatives such as Delves Road and roads between Whitehall School and Walsall Rugby Club will also be used.

“The proposed location is unacceptable and a safer area, closer to the parking and changing facilities where floodlighting is consolidated on site has got to be the correct strategic decision for both the authority and the university."

Fellow resident John Mason added: “The hours of use of the courts total 88 and a half hours a week, 52 weeks a year.

“The university propose to fill these hours by hiring out the facility for national, regional and local events as well as local leagues and schools.

“It will be a money generator. There is no screening proposed for light or noise reduction.”

David Green, of agents Delta Planning, told the committee: “We fully acknowledge residents’ concerns and the university does not take these lightly. We have listened and we have tried to accommodate things as far as we can.

“These courts do exist already and are not new. This is essentially about the floodlights. The design we have put forward meets all the necessary lighting standards and won’t cause harm to nearby residential properties.

“The reality is they’ll have less lighting impact than the street lamps fixed outside these houses.”

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