Is this game, set and match for Norwich’s final park grass tennis courts?
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017
The last grass tennis courts left in Norwich's public parks could be removed to make way for new all-weather courts - sparking split opinions on the merits of such a change.
Norwich City Council is working with the Lawn Tennis Association over a scheme which would replace the 10 grass courts in Heigham Park, off Recreation Road in the Golden Triangle.
The council says it wants to build on the success of the Norwich Parks Tennis project, which was introduced in Eaton Park in 2012.
Council leaders say that joining forces with the LTA could bring in funding to replace the courts, which will mean they can be used all year, rather than just the summer season.
A planning application would need to be lodged, which could include a separate entrance to the park, specifically for use by people using the courts. That would be available when the rest of the park is shut.
But the potential changes have run into opposition. Denise Carlo, Green councillor for Nelson ward, said Heigham Park is included on Historic England's Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special interest - and the lawn tennis courts are part of its historic character.
She said: 'The city council is focusing solely on the sports angle and does not appear to have considered the historic aspect.
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'Heigham Park is a small site and the conversion of 10 grass courts to floodlit all-weather courts would have a detrimental impact on its historic character.
'We want the council to suspend work on its plans and discuss options for the grass tennis courts with residents, user groups and heritage bodies.
'Waiting until the planning application stage to let the public have a say would be far too late.'
But Roger Ryan, cabinet member for customer care and leisure at City Hall, said it was 'too good an opportunity to miss.
He said: 'This project is about improving facilities so more people use them.
'This council has an excellent track record of making sure, even in the face of government cuts, that our historic parks are well used and maintained.
'But we have to move with the times and look for external investment to protect these facilities for generations to come.'
He said people would get their say as part of the planning application process.