FURIOUS residents have served a volley of criticism at controversial plans to build a £2 million tennis club in Hoole.
Residents and allotment holders, who risk losing their plots, have challenged city councillors and representatives from Hoole Lawn Tennis Club to address fears over the relocation of the club to land near Canadian Avenue, Hoole.
More than 100 campaigners, including the newly-formed Hoole Action Group, this week hit out at the city council's lack of consultation.
They believe they should have been contacted for a feasibility study.
Plans to relocate the club from its Fairfield Road site to allotment land at the rear of a residential area would include four indoor and nine outdoor tennis courts, squash and badminton courts, an indoor bowling green, changing rooms, toilets and a car park for 60 vehicles, to be shared by club patrons and allotment owners.
Harry Kingham, who attended Tuesday night's private consultation meeting in his role as Hoole Action Group Chairman, has tended an allotment for years. He claims the council has been preventing people obtaining a plot to ease through the development.
Mr Kingham, of Walter Street, Newton, said: 'Lots of people have approached me to complain. It looks like the council is deliberately running down the colony.
'By refusing to let plots where they hope to build, they can then claim there is no demand. This is an injustice and probably illegal.
'There is a sense of outrage among plot holders and residents who have watched over the years as the council
has allowed the colony to turn into a tip and become overrun by weeds. Now they are refusing to let out plots we want - the only ones left are in such a state it would put anybody off.'
Councillor Rob Jordan, Chester City Council portfolio holder for the environment, said: 'The suggestion we are trying to deliberately run down the colony is just not the case.
'We are not turning away people who want to let plots, but offering them plots in the cultivated areas of allotment colonies for the practical purposes of maintenance and security.
'When you have plots scattered in patches all over a large area, maintenance and security is difficult, but letting plots in more cultivated areas reduces problems.'
Allotment owner Linda Webb, of Fairfield Road, said she was left with little confidence in the legitimacy of the scheme.
'There are many well-founded objections to this scheme on environ-mental, amenity, financial and legal grounds,' she said.
'Councillors believe the club has successfully applied for funding to the Lawn Tennis Association to help pay for the project, but the representative of the club separately admitted no such application had been made.'
'A great deal of public money seems to be being expended through the investment of officers' and councillors' time in an amateurishly conceived and ill-thought out proposal, which many people object to - and one which has begun with the council considering leasing publicly-owned land to a private club,' she added.
Plans will be on public consultation at the Upton, Hoole and Newton area committee meeting at 7pm on Wednesday, March 16, at All Saints Church Hall, Vicarage Road, Hoole.