Earl's Court Padel Facility Gets Alcohol Licence

Five temporary courts to be built on the exhibition centre site

A visualisation of the planned new courts from planning documents

February 5, 2024

Padel fans will soon be able to enjoy a drink as well as a runaround after Hammersmith and Fulham Council approved a four-year premises licence for the Earl’s Court site. Padel is a racket sport similar to tennis, though is always played in doubles, and in an enclosed court.

Padel Social Club was last month given the green-light to install five temporary courts at the former Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre 2. Due to expire on December 31, 2025, the plans also include six single and two-storey portacabins to serve food and alcohol, as well as a wellness room and office space. The club has offered free bookings to the local community, with other discounts available to residents.

Alongside the planning submission, Padel Social Club had also filed a licensing application, in a bid to secure the right to sell alcohol on-site. At a Licensing Sub-Committee meeting last Wednesday night (31 January), councillors voted to approve the submission to run until January 2028, a decision the club says will enable it to roll out its ‘fantastic offering’ to the community.

An initial 16 objections were filed opposing the application, though following amendments including reducing the hours alcohol could be sold, 14 of these were withdrawn.

According to a written submission from Padel Social Club’s solicitor, John Walllsgrove of John Gaunt and Partners, the sale of alcohol is only meant to be an ‘ancillary’ part of the operation. Mr Wallsgrove wrote, “It is anticipated that players and spectators would only spend a short time post-match enjoying refreshments before leaving. Non-alcoholic refreshments will of course be equally available. This is exactly the sort of diverse premises that the Local Authority should be encouraging.”

At last night’s virtual meeting, Cllr Dominic Stanton queried Padel Social Club Chief Executive and Co-Founder, Kristian Hunter, on whether there are plans for any restrictions on who can play, in particular whether a membership scheme is envisaged.

Mr Hunter said: “First and foremost, this is a club that is open to all and to the public. Padel is this beautiful game that is available to all and one we are not creating barriers to entry for.”

He later added that while there will be membership options, these will secure discounted entry rather than any additional access.

“We have a capacity, and we won’t exceed that, but otherwise it’s open to the public. For both playing, for coming in for a drink, for a bite to eat, or simply to watch the sport, and hopefully take it up and giving it a go.”

The climate impact of the club, especially given its temporary nature, was also raised. Cllr Florian Chevoppe-Verdier asked whether the court lights would be on even when the space was not in use, as well as any carbon offsetting the club was planning on doing.

Mr Hunter assured Cllr Chevoppe-Verdier that each court would have its own switch, preventing lights being left on, and while he did not mention specific offsetting plans, he said considerations such as on-site recycling and water filters are included in the designs.

Following a brief adjournment, the committee resolved to approve the licence, granting the club permission to open between 10am and 11pm seven days a week and to serve alcohol 10am to 10.30pm Sunday to Wednesday, and 10am to 10.45pm Thursday to Saturday.

Mr Hunter told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) after the meeting, “We are super excited to bring five padel courts and social areas to Earl’s Court, a space with great heritage of sport. The courts and social offering will add a fantastic offering for the local community and a club which will be open to all.”

Ben Lynch - Local Democracy Reporter