‘Much needed’ safety netting at Sidmouth Cricket Club wins town council backing

Sidmouth cricket club from the esplanade. Ref shs 25 18TI 5951. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth cricket club from the esplanade. Ref shs 25 18TI 5951. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Plans to protect the public from flying cricket balls by installing a seven metre high safety net at Sidmouth Cricket Club have won the backing of the town’s planning committee.

Members voted unanimously in favour on Wednesday, saying it would be ‘wrong’ to turn down the application.

The club says the plans are motivated by health and safety reasons and The Herald has previously reported on calls for netting. A number of near misses have been reported and in August an 80-year-old woman required 14 stitches on the back of her head after being hit by a cricket ball.

The club wishes to install netting along the southern perimeter and increase the height of existing protection to seven metres on its western boundary. It submitted plans for safety netting in March last year but withdrew it after East Devon District Council (EDDC) suggested it would need to be taken down after every match.

At the planning meeting, Councillor Dawn Manley said: “It would be wrong to turn this down.

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“It really does need this netting. I applaud the cricket club for going to such trouble and expense to keep people safe.”

Cllr John Rayson added: “It looks as if the cricket club have gone to a lot of trouble to try to find something that is suitable.”

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Members emphasised the need for public protection but were wary of not disrupting the look of the area due to the pitch being surrounded by listed buildings and being in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

According to the plans, the nets would stay up for the length of the cricket season, which usually runs from April to September, and would be retracted when not in use.

The club said in its application: “During the cricket season the view out to sea from Fortfield Terrace properties would be minimally affected when games are in progress.

“Motivation for the proposal is health and safety.

“The changing nature of cricket in the last 15 years has seen the ball hit harder, higher and further.

“Sidmouth Cricket, Tennis & Croquet Club is keen to avert the possibility of more serious incidents by providing the best possibly protection while minimising impact on a sensitive environment.”

The fate of the application will be decided by EDDC.

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