‘Pók! Pók! Pók! Residents of Oudven in Mierlo do not want this sound to disturb their pleasant peace. To prevent four busy padel courts from soon being built in their neighbourhood, they started a joint campaign.
“I have nothing against the sport. Only that loud noise near my house, I don’t want that”, Freek Raijmakers, initiator of the campaign, says. He represents a group of local residents who protest the arrival of the courts. Because: “Padel leads to unlivable situations for local residents, who get desperate from the hard tapping sound”. The residents are collecting signatures and lobbying the municipality against the construction of the new courts. They have also distributed booklets to residents with arguments against.
Padel, a kind of cross between tennis and squash, is the fastest growing sport in the Netherlands. There are already fifteen hundred courts at more than 350 outdoor locations in our country. These are causing a flood of noise complaints, Raijmakers says. “Because the growth is explosive, there are no clear regulations yet. Therefore, the regulations surrounding tennis courts are being applied to padel courts. But this is a considerable underestimation of the actual noise pollution”.
The noisy new sport also has another side. It is the salvation for many new tennis clubs, which throughout the country are struggling with declining membership numbers. Such is the case with the tennis club in Mierlo. The club is eager to give itself a boost by building four fresh padel courts that will undoubtedly bring in many new members. “The viability is at stake”, Pierre Heesakkers, Groundsman of ‘Mierlose Tennisvereniging’ (Mierlo tennis assocation) emphasizes. “Padel is extremely popular and we notice that the interest in coming to padel at our club is very high”.
Now the ‘Mierlose Tennisvereniging’ is located on Heer van Scherpenzeelweg in Mierlo. Eventually, the club would like to move to Oudven, and build four padel courts there. But Heesakkers does not expect to be able to move into a new sports park any time soon. Moreover, there are quite a few objections from local residents to the proposed new location on Oudven.
The MTV manager thinks that the club will not be able to move to Oudven for another six to 10 years. “Still, the construction of padel courts cannot wait any longer because it attracts many new members. And for the future of MTV, this is much needed. So the construction of padel courts is definitely going to give Mierlose Tennisvereniging a boost”.
At the same time, Heesakkers understands that residents are concerned about noise pollution. Also at the current location. “We are here in the middle of a residential area. We have consultations with local residents and the municipality and want to do the same later at our new location on Oudven. However, we have to get cooperation from the municipality. In any case, an acoustic report will be made and this will show what kind of noise protection measures we may have to take”.
Heesakkers thinks for example of a large wall, but the question is whether the residents of Oudven find this sufficient. Although the need to take action now seems to have disappeared somewhat because the tennis club is not going to move any time soon. Freek Raijmakers, one of the concerned residents: “Still, we ask the municipality to apply the guidelines of the Nederlandse Stichting Geluidshinder (Dutch noise foundation, NSG) in advance. So at least 210 metres between environmentally sensitive destinations – such as homes – and padel courts”.
Despite the clear advice of the NSG, MTV and the Municipality of Geldrop-Mierlo are in discussions to expand the tennis club with padel courts and move them to Oudven. “We are not happy about that”, neighbour Raijmakers says. “We also understand that MTV wants to do something about the declining membership, but even at the current location the club is already causing noise pollution. And then we’re talking about tennis instead of padel”.
The noise level of padel is 15 dB higher than tennis. Raijmakers: “The tapping of the ball hitting the padel racket and the glass wall causes a much higher noise level than in tennis. As much as thirty times higher! This is partly due to the hard materials, making the ball contact sound louder, but also because there is a hard fence around the courts, which functions as a sound box. In addition, the number of strokes per minute in padel is higher than in tennis”.
Translated by: Bob