Ilkley Lawn Tennis and Squash Club has unveiled a long term development plan in response to a growing demand for tennis, squash and fitness facilities in the community.

After three years of planning and consultation the club intends to submit a planning application to enable a phased development to go ahead.

The plan involves the rebuilding of the gym and fitness suite, with the addition of aerobics studios, an additional indoor tennis court, additional car parking and better segregation of the Dales Way footpath.

In the longer term the club, in Stourton Road, hopes to provide three further outdoor, all weather courts. The squash and entrance areas will also be extensively refurbished to provide better viewing and security.

But the development has not been welcomed by all. A group of residents has got together to express concerns about aspects of the plans. They are worried about the impact on the area and the increased traffic. The plan has been The plan has been put together by the club to ensure it is able to provide for the growing need for a top-class fitness facility in the town and the continued growth of its junior programme and membership.

Around 50 residents were invited to a meeting at the club, and club chairman Richard Bourdon said the club had taken concerns on board and had amended the plans.

Mr Bourdon said: “The dramatic growth in recent years of both our junior programme – where more than 500 local children enjoy developing their tennis and squash skill – and also the continued growth in demand for Ilkley to have its own top-class fitness facility, have meant that the club needs to upgrade its facilities.

“Our existing gym, which was built 15 years ago, is no longer adequate for the demands placed on it, and with many local residents having to travel outside the immediate area for their fitness needs or just not joining a gym, the club has decided to invest in an upgrade.

“Once planning permission is in place the club will be able to finalise its funding plans and set about creating a facility which will serve the Ilkley area for years to come.

“We are really proud of ILTSC and the role it plays in the life of our areas and want to continue to invest and grow.”

He added the club would continue to consult with neighbouring residents, the local council and its own members to ensure that the minimum possible disruption is caused as each stage is implemented.

Resident Simon Turner, speaking on behalf of a group of local residents who object to the plans, said chief among their concerns was the decision to put a car park on what is currently a horse’s field.

He said: “We are all of the opinion that the club’s amendments essentially change nothing; there is still going to be a substantial predicted increase in traffic along Stourton Road (and therefore on to Skipton Road and beyond), the tearing up of a small but very appealing ‘green space’ with inevitable impact on local wildlife as well as the resident horse, and a serious risk of flood waters being pushed further down the valley, threatening housing in Ilkley.”

He added: “The vehicles they predict will use the car parking will, we believe, create huge problems on the narrow, unadopted Stourton Road and the busy junctions with the A65 and Easby Drive.

“And we fear this might lead to another set of traffic lights being set up, which could create further congestion. The Dales Way runs along the bottom of Stourton Road and we fear for the safety of ramblers and dog walkers.

“We are not against the tennis club expanding. It’s a community asset but we have concerns about the plans as they stand.”