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'Lights out' too early for clubs

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2014
Sports Lights
BLACK OUT: Remuera Rackets chairman Don Cotter says light restrictions at sports clubs are unnecessary.

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Tennis clubs across Auckland are rallying against a lights-out proposal which would cut back their playing hours.

A clause in the proposed Unitary Plan states floodlights in residential areas must be switched off at 6pm on Sundays and public holidays instead of the usual 10pm.

Tennis clubs are often nestled in pockets of residential development and this will impact their membership and court use, clubs say.

Remuera Rackets Club president Don Cotter says his club has a friendly relationship with its neighbours.

They have not received any complaints about the lights in 50 years at Dilworth Ave, he says.

"I just can't understand the need for it. We've been operating seven days a week with absolutely no neighbourhood issues about lights - what's driving all of this?"

During daylight saving the club's lights are switched on about 8pm but during winter they go on from 5pm.

Events and competitions are often planned for public holiday evenings, he says.

"It's definitely the public holidays in particular that are a sticking point. And what relevance is Sunday?

"We're totally anti it. I don't think it will impact our membership but it's just unnecessary."

Parnell Tennis Club moved to its Auckland Domain site in 1956 and was there before much of the development of the area, club manager John Hukins says. The club is submitting against the proposal this week.

"We're similar to the speedway in that we are being built up around. There is increasing residential pressure in close proximity.

"It's pretty disappointing, particularly given the council is so determined to promote health and well-being at the moment. It seems to be a bit of a contradiction."

Royal Oak Rackets Club manager John Fletcher says the change is unnecessary.

The club runs a large annual junior tournament before Christmas which usually runs to about 11pm and would be affected by the policy, he says.

"Some members can only play after work in the evenings. We have a good relationship with our neighbours so I don't see the need for there to be hard and fast rules."

Eden Epsom Tennis & Squash Club president Paul O'Brian says the change, if implemented, wouldn't affect his club too badly.

"We're a family club and most people would be pretty much gone by 6pm in the winter months when it starts to get dark anyway."

An Auckland Council spokesperson says the policy has been made to align the noise and light controls in residential areas.

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The Sport and Active Recreation Zone allows floodlights until 10pm but the Residential Zone includes a rule that floodlights must be turned off at 6pm on Sundays and public holidays.

Submissions to the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan close on Friday.

Go to shapeauckland.co.nz.

- East And Bays Courier

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