Neighbours and nature lovers unite in opposition to spa garden proposals

BATS, woodpeckers and owls could all suffer if an extension to a sports club in Westbury gets the go-ahead, according to wildlife lovers.

David Lloyd Leisure Club on Greystoke Avenue wants to extend the building, and add an outdoor spa garden with hydro pool, sauna and plant room, with outside lighting, along a boundary with Badocks Wood next door.

People living nearby say the spa garden will be on an existing car park, and will mean more cars overflowing onto nearby streets.

They also say new floodlighting on two recently built padel (a form of tennis) courts is so bright, they don’t need to turn on their bedroom lights at night. In a separate application, David Lloyd has asked for retrospective planning permission for these courts and a terrace lounge area and floodlighting.

Friends of Badocks Wood and the Westbury on Trym Society (WoTSoc) are objecting to both the padel courts and the new spa garden. Both schemes will be considered by Bristol City Council planners.

The Friends say the David Lloyd site is already “the major source of pervasive industrial noise and light pollution to nature on the Badocks Wood site” and they fear the changes will make matters worse.

The Friends say a boundary double hedgerow has been there “hundreds of years” and the area is home to breeding badgers. 

They add: “The proposed external lighting will have an adverse impact not only on bats and moths but also on the other important nocturnal and twilight species. 

“Badocks Wood is the home of a wide variety of animal, bird and plant life, including breeding apex predators – fox, badger, tawny owl and sparrowhawk.

“The whole of the site is Local Green Space of the highest quality because it meets all five criteria for this designation in the National Planning Policy Framework: beauty, tranquillity, richness of wildlife, historic significance and recreational value. Badocks Wood is just one of 11 sites across the whole of Bristol that scored on all of these criteria.”

They said noise from plant was also intrusive.  They have called for conditions to be placed on the padel court, and future developments, including limits to amplified music, and noise output of plant, as well as requesting special LED lighting which is more wildlife friendly.

One resident objected on BCC’s planning portal, saying: “Parking is already oversubscribed and cars are regularly parking on the grass in the provided car park.” 

Another resident said the club’s car park was already full at weekends.

WoTSoc claims the new padel courts occupy a larger area than the former tennis court – and the development resulted removal of trees and vegetation.

The society says: “We would expect at the very least a replanting scheme and replacement of the trees lost in accordance with the tree replacement standard.”

A number of people living nearby have also objected to the padel court floodlighting.

One said: “The lighting is very bright and is on from dusk until sunrise every day. I do not need to put any lights on in the bedroom to see what I need to do because the lights are so bright.

“The excessive lighting is leading to light pollution, disturbing local wildlife and causing discomfort for nearby residents, particularly during evening hours.”

Another said: “The existing noise from the plant is extremely excessive. In the summer months been on many occasions I have unable to enjoy peace in my garden from the social events. It would also devalue my property if I were to sell.”

Planning consultants Lichfields, acting for David Lloyd Leisure, say the proposal for the outdoor spa follows “considerable requests for an improvement to the external facilities” from members.  They say the new spa will not have flood lighting and all external lighting will be low level and energy efficient.

=“The proposal will incorporate sympathetic hard and soft landscaping. The facilities are of a scale and design that are sympathetic and subordinate to that of the existing buildings.”

They said the new padel courts were on previous tennis courts, and David Lloyd had accepted they should have applied for planning permission before carrying out the work.

“The development diversifies and enhances the club’s offering and facilitates the projected increase of members to the site through the proposed improvements. 

“The facilities are of a scale and design that are sympathetic and subordinate to that of the existing buildings.”

The plans can be viewed on the council planning portal with the references 24/00137/F  and 23/03541/F.