Controversial changes to tennis in Norwich’s Heigham Park withdrawn - but grass courts will still shut

The grass tennis courts at Heigham Park. Photo: Bill Smith

The grass tennis courts at Heigham Park. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant � 2013

A controversial bid to replace grass tennis courts in a Norwich park has been withdrawn and will be superseded by a revised scheme.

Denise Carlo.

Denise Carlo. - Credit: �Archant Photographic 2008

But council bosses say the current courts will still have to be shut to save money.

Norwich City Council made an application to its own planning committee to replace the Heigham Park tennis courts with three all-weather tennis courts - linked to funding from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).But the application garnered some 60 objections, including from The Gardens Trust, who said the application did not respect the historic status of the Grade II listed park, which was designed in the 1920s/30s by Captain A Sandys-Winsch.

The application has been withdrawn and a fresh one will be submitted.

Denise Carlo, Green Party councillor for Nelson ward, who had opposed the application, said: 'I welcome withdrawal of this unsympathetic scheme.

'Had the council approved the application, it would have laid itself open to a legal challenge as officers had failed to follow the national planning process for development affecting heritage assets.

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'I would like to see the council shelve its ambition for all-weather tennis courts at Heigham Park as hard surfacing, lighting columns and wire mesh fencing would harm its special character.'

However, the council, which had previously said it could not afford to keep using public funds to 'heavily susbidise' grass tennis, said, even with a revised scheme pending, the grass courts will shut at the end of August.

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The council says the withdrawal of the application will also mean a hoped for £195,000 grant from the LTA will not be received in its entirety, but they could yet bid for more money.

But they said plans for changes to tennis courts in Eaton Park, Lakenham Recreation Ground and Harford Park would go ahead.

Roger Ryan, the city council's cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: 'We have listened to the objections and the constructive feedback received and we are aiming to submit a new, revised application for three all-weather courts shortly.

'As there is a major shortfall in the money it costs to maintain the grass courts at Heigham Park and the revenue received, they will need to close at the end of the season.'

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