New sports facilities planned for Greater Norwich’s next generation of sports lovers

Sunday league footballers playing in the winter sun at Rackheath.Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Sunday league footballers playing in the winter sun at Rackheath.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

A shopping list of new sports facilities has been drawn up to cope with the growing population in the Greater Norwich area.

Juan, six, and three-year-old Mateo Davila-Smith at the Great British tennis weekend at Eaton Park i

Juan, six, and three-year-old Mateo Davila-Smith at the Great British tennis weekend at Eaton Park in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Highlights include 25 new football pitches, more spaces for rugby, cricket and hockey, the modernisation of existing school sports halls, and a new hall for the Rackheath area and Acle.

With 37,000 new homes set to be built by 2026, planners have been taking stock of current services and deciding what new facilities will be needed and where they should be.

Local sports organisations were asked for their views.

A report from the Greater Norwich Growth Board (GNGB) outlines the strategy for the next decade to make best use of current equipment and provide new services where needed.

The plans show there is demand for an indoor tennis centre and more football pitches. Picture: Simon

The plans show there is demand for an indoor tennis centre and more football pitches. Picture: Simon Finlay. - Credit: Archant Norfolk


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Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council and chairman of the Greater Norwich Growth Board, which includes Broadland, Norwich and South Norfolk councils, said the strategy will boost chances of applying for funding to get the schemes off the ground.

'By putting these sports facilities strategies in place, we have comprehensive, evidence-based information to help us access funding for improvements to the area's sports provision,' she said.

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'Homes and infrastructure need to be delivered hand in hand with facilities that support and bring communities together.

'It is an important part of our commitment to deliver growth as a complete package for the benefit of Greater Norwich as a whole.'

The strategy recommends the supply of sports halls will meet projected demand by 2026, but facilities need to be enhanced, particularly at schools.

Increased community use of sports equipment is crucial to the proposals to enable access to benefit residents as well as schools.

Developers will foot some of the bill through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), which secures funding from developers to benefit the communities they serve.

Another funding stream will be through local authorities assisting sports clubs and parish and town councils in applying for funding from organisations like Sport England.

HOW THE STRATEGY COULD BENEFIT SPORT IN THE AREA

• Football: Norfolk FA were involved in the steering group to ensure any new pitches are developed in the right areas according to need.Gavin Lemmon, county development manager for Norfolk FA, said: 'It has been a huge piece of work, and even bigger as it involves three local authorities not just one.' The strategy recommends new pitches for senior and junior levels. Mr Lemmon added: 'The whole reason we got involved is because we want to make sure that football is in the thinking behind new developments. The challenge will be how we drive forward development.'

• Tennis: The strategy outlines demand for an indoor tennis centre as well as the improvement of existing facilities. Chris Evans, from EA Tennis, a coaching company based in Norwich, said he remembers a time when there were 40 courts at Eaton Park, not just four. 'I was born and bred in Norwich. Schools used to have much bigger tennis facilities then,' he said. 'The dream is to have free courts north, south, east and west of the city.'

MORE FROM THE REPORT

Large numbers of new houses in Norwich and the surrounding areas over the next few years means there is more pressure on services.

The 37,000 new homes planned to be built by 2026 will mean a large population increase, and a likely growth in demand for sports facilities in the districts which make up the Greater Norwich area – Broadland, Norwich, and South Norfolk.

Sports clubs were consulted during the process to find out which areas had the most need for the improvement of existing facilities.

The high quality equipment in the Sportspark at the University of East Anglia means that no demand was identified for more regional-scale sports facilities.

• What new facilities would you like to see? Email george.ryan@archant.co.uk

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