More than £400,000 could be spent to revamp tennis courts in four Norwich parks
Almost £400,000 could be spent to refurbish and replace tennis courts in four of Norwich's parks.
Plans have just been lodged for changes to tennis courts in Harford Park, Lakenham Recreation Ground, Eaton Park and Heigham Park.
Norwich City Council has applied to its own planning department for the revamp, which would see hard courts refurbished and flood-lighting installed at Harford and Lakenham. Floodlighting would also be installed at three courts in Eaton Park.
However, the scheme also proposes removing the council's last remaining grass courts in Heigham Park and replacing them with three all-weather floodlit courts, which has already attracted controversy.
The council wants to replicate the success of the Norwich Parks Tennis programme, which has been running in Eaton Park.
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For the revamp to go ahead, it would mean the council would have to invest £140,000 from its capital budget. City Hall officers say that is less than what it would spend maintaining the current courts for three-and-a-half years.
But the council would also have to be successful in a bid for £195,000 from the Lawn Tennis Association, while £55,000 would come from contributions made by housing developers.
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If planning permission is secured and the funding bid is successful, the improvement work to the courts could be rolled out from the autumn of 2017.
The Heigham Park proposals have proved controversial. Green city councillors, who organised a public meeting earlier this month, said the council was going about the proposal the wrong way.
Denise Carlo, Green councillor for Nelson ward, said there were already 10 floodlit all-weather tennis courts within walking and cycling distance of Heigham Park and the grass courts should be retained.
But Roger Ryan, cabinet member for customer care and leisure said: 'These proposals would mean we could offer to the whole city excellent tennis facilities and expert coaching – making sure the sport is open and accessible to people of all ages and abilities.
'Using public funds to heavily subsidise grass tennis is simply something we can't do.
'This would mean players get a real quality experience at top-notch facilities that are not a drain on the public purse.'