Council could fast-track funding for racquet centre

The indoor courts at Atlantic Racquet Centre. Picture: Matt Smart

The indoor courts at Atlantic Racquet Centre. Picture: Matt Smart - Credit: Matt Smart

Calls to fast-track funding for Bideford’s Atlantic Racquet Centre have been backed by councillors.

Torridge district councillors voted in favour of a motion exploring options for a £100,000 loan to the centre when it met virtually for a full council meeting on Monday, August 10.

The money would be enough for the centre in Caddsdown to complete its final building phase, which includes squash courts, an extra badminton court, space for table tennis, a gym and fitness studios and changing facilties, as well as a bar and cafeteria.

A statement from the centre said it had raised £2.9million of the £3million needed, having recently secured £375,000 from the Lawn Tennis Association.

The centre is due £100,000 in Section 106 contributions from developers of the Daddon Hill scheme in Northam.

However, the scheme has only just been given permission for its first phase of development, and the money is not due until construction of the second phase.

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Councillor Shirley Langford, who submitted the motion to the council, said: “While there are no guarantees with 106 funding, it would have seemed a fair and reasonable expectation they would have received the money by now some four years later, but unfortunately work on the development has not yet started.

“This has left Atlantic Racquet Centre in a difficult situation, as they now require this to complete the current phase of the project.

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“When complete this will make it self sustaining and make the facility fully accessible to the whole Torridge community.

“Given the very challenging times we are living in and the shortage of leisure facilities open and available, Atlantic Racquet Centre is and will be a key part of leisure activities which will greatly benefit the mental and physical heath and wellbeing of our local community.”

Councillors voted in support of the motion, with 30 votes for and one against. It will go before the council’s community and resources committee for debate before going back to full council for a final decision.

After forming as a charity in 2013, Atlantic Racquet Centre opened its six floodlit outdoor tennis courts in 2015.

The centre’s four indoor courts were opened in January 2018, bringing with it the opportunity for badminton play.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the centre was welcoming around 1,100 weekly visitors.

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