People power spares Norwich sports hall from the axe

Wensum Lodge Sports Hall will be officially reopened this weekend.

Wensum Lodge Sports Hall will be officially reopened this weekend. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

A Norwich sports hall which was in danger of disappearing will be officially reopened this weekend, thanks to the tireless work of volunteers who were determined to save it.

People power has spared Wensum Lodge Sports Hall from the axe and those who have fought to save it have urged the community to help complete the success story - by using the centre.

The sports hall, in King Street in the city centre, was closed in December 2010 after Norfolk County Council claimed maintenance costs were too expensive to keep it open.

A consultation into plans to sell off the sports hall and its car park was then started, but a group of people who used the centre took action to prevent that.

They ran a petition and used the Freedom of Information Act to challenge figures quoted to justify the closure.

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The group was handed a boost when proposals to allocate the site for housing were left out of a blueprint for development drawn up by Norwich City Council.

And the group was delighted when they were able to negotiate a lease with the county council to run the centre and the car park next door.

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Architect Roger Mason, who has helped lead the campaign to keep the sports hall running, said: 'We are delighted to be up and running again and, following redecoration and repairs, the hall is looking really good.

'Bookings for the badminton and squash courts are coming in and various schools and clubs are already making regular block bookings.

'It's a great success for the community to have rescued this resource and, hopefully, secured it for the foreseeable future.

'We are very grateful to everyone who has helped, from the local councillors and politicians who supported our action, to Dulux, who kindly donated all the paint we needed for the redecoration.'

The official re-opening will take place from 11am until 3pm on Sunday, when the public will get the chance to see - and try out - what is on offer.

The event will include an official opening at noon by John Jennings, Sheriff of Norwich. The day will also include taster sessions in badminton, squash, short mat bowls, table tennis, ergo bikes and canoes, a football penalty shootout and a guitar workshop.

Bookings for the hall can be made via or by calling 01603 568823.

• Are you pleased to see Wensum Lodge Sports Hall survive? Write to Norwich Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email

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