New floodlights get the go-ahead at The Racecourse despite protest by neighbours

Courts will also get a makeover after grant from Sport England

Friday, 19th March 2021, 5:17 pm
Updated Friday, 19th March 2021, 5:18 pm
An artist's impression of how the new basketball court would look

A bid by Northampton Borough Council to install floodlights at basketball courts which border the rear gardens of houses has been approved despite objections from residents.

The borough council submitted a planning application to install 10 lights at the courts located at The Racecourse.

The borough’s planning committee approved the application at a meeting on March 16.

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During the meeting, councillor Jane Birch mentioned the lights needed to be installed as a condition of funding from Sport England towards the resurfacing of the courts which are in need of repair.. The floodlights were a separate application by the borough council.

A report to the committee, stated there was a proposed condition the lampposts for the floodlights are painted black to match the appearance of the existing lampposts.

A lighting test was carried out and the report states it is not considered the floodlights would be unduly intrusive upon houses to the south. The council is proposing to turn off the lights automatically at 9pm and the lights will only be used between 8am and 9pm.

Residents had made several objections to the council before the meeting which included an increase in anti-social behaviour, there already being enough daylight during the year and an increase in litter and noise.

Tony Monger, a resident whose home overlooks the courts, addressed the committee. He said: “Are the lights really necessary? Is there not sufficient daylight throughout the year already? There are 8-11 hours of daylight during October to March which is when the worst weather is.

“April to September there’s 13-17.5 hours of daylight every day. We see far less use of the court over the winter.

“So the most beneficial time is during spring and summer, so we are intrigued by what any fitness or cost benefit analysis that would support the notion of having more time to play across the year.

“If you’ve done your maths on your lighting hours and existing daylight, in mid September to mid March you’ll get 25 per cent more playing time.

“Between mid March and mid September you’ll get five per cent more playing time for an investment of this scale. Does it stack up?”

Mr Monger went on to say litter, human and dog excrement was a problem and there were no public toilets.

Councillor Jane Birch asked Mr Monger whether he was consulted about the application to Sport England about the upgrade of the basketball courts. Mr Monger said “no.”

Cllr Birch said she was disappointed that Mr Monger had not been consulted.

In her comments about the application, Cllr Birch said: “The funding from Sport England is dependent on the lights being in place. The grant is a very large amount of money to resurface those courts.

“Basketball is an incredibly popular sport among young people and one of the things we want young people to do is get engaged in sport and it does reduce anti-social behaviour.

“The lighting will provide extra security during hours of darkness and I would ask people to think about the wider issue.

“There’s already a lot of activity on The Racecourse. I don’t think this will increase activity. There will be training, coaching, league matches, not probably at night, probably at the weekends more often but they are there now at the moment.

“So I don’t really acknowledge the increase in noise, litter and anti-social behaviour. It’s a problem already and is being dealt with in many different ways.

“I’d ask you to think about the facilities that are being offered. Or the improved facilities for the young people that live in the area and there’s a huge interest in basket ball and the league matches that go on.

“It’s not just the disabled basketball players, it is the young people from all over the town.”