The president of a Gerrards Cross charity dedicated to serving the local area says plans to create a new sporting space are of ‘significant community value’ despite the loss of allotment patches.

Patricia Cross, 72, who has had an allotment at the town’s Memorial Centre for just over a year, told the Free Press she had been “heartbroken” by plans to scrap the community garden space and build new padel courts in its place.

The plans were put forward by the Gerrards Cross Community Association last month and involve the redevelopment of “unused” tennis courts into a facility for the popular hybrid sport.

Patricia said she and six other allotment holders, for whom tending the land had been a “lovely and peaceful” escape for over 15 years, were told three weeks ago that their access would be terminated in December for a “repurposing” project.

The 72-year-old said members of the group had been “deflated” by the news, which seemed to discourage the “effort and thought” put into planting and watering seeds of all varieties and waiting to see them “come to fruition”.

“Gardening is a long-term thing – I was so enthusiastic when I got off the waiting list and could finally get started. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy getting it up to scratch. This has been a bit of a shock.”

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Despite backlash to the plans both from allotment holders like Patricia and neighbours who have raised concerns about the padel courts’ noise impact on those living nearby, Tony Aston, president of the community association, remains convinced of the “significant improvement” the project would have on the local area.

He said: “The tennis courts are in poor condition and not in use, while the padel courts will be a major addition to the recreational facilities available to Gerrards Cross residents.

“To accommodate this change, it will be necessary to use part of the land currently used for allotments. There are currently seven allotments in an area used exclusively by the allotment holders.

“Changes in that area will have no effect on other users of the Community Centre and the project itself will have significant community value.”

Peter Sutcliffe, chair of the association’s estates committee, previously said the development was intended to “open the Memorial Centre space up to a new audience” at the cost of “a few allotment holders losing their plots”.