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SAPCA Award Finalists in Focus: Ramping up Access

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14 December 2017

The SAPCA Award for Excellence was launched in 2015 to celebrate exceptional achievements by SAPCA members.
The first SAPCA Award was presented during the SAPCA Conference in February 2016 – and earlier this year, SIS Pitches beat nine other finalists to win the second edition of the prize.

In the last of a series of articles – highlighting the 10 projects which made it to the 2016 final list – we look at how an innovative approach to providing disabled access has helped a community tennis club reach record membership levels.

The Club

The Shooters Hill Lawn Tennis Club (SHLTC) in South East London has well-established links to its local community. Founded in 1927, it was initially part of the Shooters Hill Golf Club, before becoming independent in 1967.
The club is active at all levels and has six all-weather, floodlit macadam courts – providing social play, box leagues and tournaments 365 days a year. Following a successful grant from the LTA, the club added two floodlit courts in 2014, allowing it to expand membership and further develop its coaching programme with new LTA initiatives – such as Tennis Xpress and Cardio tennis.

The Project

To further strengthen its ties with its surrounding community, SHLTC established a partnership with the Charlton Park Academy School in Greenwich, with the view of developing a satellite club with Charlton Park’s special school.
The plan was for students to visit the club on a weekly basis to use the club’s facilities and take part in tennis with the club’s disability coach.

Access to the clubhouse and courts, however, presented a hurdle to visitors with impairments, as the street is at a higher level than the club. The steps at the entrance were one of many challenges for wheelchair users.
To solve the issue, the club approached SAPCA member Trevor May Contractors (TMC) to look into the cost of installing an outdoor lift next to the steps.

As well as the initial cost, the club was advised that it would also need to budget for annual servicing of the lift, as well as safety inspections – so a different approach was chosen.

TMC drew up plans which addressed not just the level change at the entrance, but which eliminated the step up into the clubhouse. By using an innovative ramp design, the solution enabled visitors easy access from the street, into the clubhouse and all the way down to the tennis courts.

The works also included improvements to the area outside the clubhouse, creating a space for social events, while giving guests a better, elevated view of the tennis.
There were advantages for non-disabled players too – members no longer have to walk across grass and mud to get onto the courts, and grass cutting no longer being necessary.

Trevor May Contractors' project manager for the works said: "The first challenge was coming up with a design that eliminated all the existing steps by providing level or ramped access to all areas, in the limited space available and with several fixed obstacles to work around.

"The next was to install the new spectator deck, ramps and paths while all the courts and the clubhouse remained in use – achieved by careful sequencing and pre-assembly of some components."

SHLTC chair, John Ratcliffe, added that the access solution has ensured the success of the satellite club initiative with Charlton Park – and enabled the club to work closer with disability groups.

The club is currently exploring options to make its clubhouse fully wheelchair accessible, with the support of the LTA. "The final result has been stunning, allowing the Satellite Club to develop and grow” - “An unexpected benefit from the project was the increased access for young families with buggies, who can now enjoy using the viewing area with ease and a level access to the clubhouse."

Since the works were completed, the number of club members has now reached its highest level since 1927.

For more information on Trevor May Contractors Ltd, please click [here]

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