Worry over ‘pub in the park’ at tennis club cafe

Tennis in the Park Tennis Cafe in Gildredge Park. December 2nd 2013 E49141P ENGSUS00120130212154151

Tennis in the Park Tennis Cafe in Gildredge Park. December 2nd 2013 E49141P ENGSUS00120130212154151

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Residents have expressed concern over plans to ‘change the flavour’ of a tennis club cafe.

The owners of Tennis in the Park, at Gildredge Park, have applied to the council for retrospective permission to turn the clubhouse into a cafe.

The club currently has permission to use the pavilion as a clubhouse for tennis club members, and was recently granted an alcohol license, which caused concern at the time.

Now the club is applying for permission to open the cafe to the general public and extend its opening hours to 11.30pm on some nights. But several residents are worried about the implications of this, and what will happen next.

“I can see it’s leading up to a pub in the park,” said Andrea Spiller, from The Goffs.

“I think it is against the spirit of a public park.”

Resident Jill Staples was once a member and supporter of the tennis club, but said things have changed.

“It used to be such a lovely place to go, watching the kids playing tennis it was lovely,” she said.

“The cafe was a nice place to get a coffee and have a chat. It was so in keeping with the park, we were so pleased.

“Now they have changed the whole character of the place. It has changed into wanting to be a town pub. It just changes the flavour of the park.”

Mary Corran, who is a member of the Friends of Manor Gardens and Gildredge Park, said she was worried about the effects the new opening hours could have on the park, which is a no alcohol zone.

“I am concerned about it creating a precedent,” she said.

A retrospective planning application was submitted to Eastbourne Borough Council to turn the pavilion into a cafe.

It lists the opening times for the cafe as 8am until 11.30pm from Monday to Saturday, and 8am until 10.30pm on Sundays and bank holidays.

The design and access statement describes the cafe as a ‘social club for the local community’, and said ‘it does not cause unreasonable issues for nearby residents’.