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Crunch decision to be made over £3.3m tennis hub

PUBLISHED: 08:35 23 August 2019 | UPDATED: 17:44 23 August 2019

Plans for a new £3.3m tennis club in Cromer are up in the air with crunch talks set for this week. Photo: Archant/NNDC

Plans for a new £3.3m tennis club in Cromer are up in the air with crunch talks set for this week. Photo: Archant/NNDC

Archant

Crunch talks over the future of a new tennis hub in north Norfolk are to be held this morning, which could see the £3.3m scheme scrapped.

Sarah Butikofer, leader of North Norfolk District Council Picture: NNDCSarah Butikofer, leader of North Norfolk District Council Picture: NNDC

It emerged last month that North Norfolk District Council's plan to build a new facility on land at Cromer Academy had hit a stumbling block and could likely be abandoned.

The council has already spent more than £500,000 on preparatory work for the project, however a range of complications have seen it come to a standstill.

On Friday, it will come under the scrutiny of the council's cabinet, with council leader Sarah Butikofer indicating last month it could be scrapped altogether.

In a report to the cabinet, Emma Duncan, the head of the council's legal team, said complications included failure to secure £712,500 of funding from the lawn Tennis Association and changes at the helm of the Cromer Lawn Tennis and Squash Association.

These have resulted in a complex three-way agreement between NNDC, the CLTSA and the Inspiration Trust over land ownership hitting a stalemate.

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At its meeting later this week, NNDC's cabinet will mull over the projects future, with options including taking the dispute to the High Court, attempting to renegotiate or scrapping the scheme altogether.

The report warns that the council runs the risk of damage to its reputation if it were pursue a court hearing; but also that it may be forced to write off the £554,863.50 already spent should it be abandoned.

At the latest meeting of NNDC's full council, Mrs Butikofer said the scheme would likely be taken off the table.

She said: "This vanity project by the previous [Conservative] administration failed to receive the backing of the Lawn Tennis Association who refused to put money into its development, as they were not persuaded by the business case for it.

"Regardless of this obvious red flag our predecessors pushed on with this extravagant project which would benefit only a small number of north Norfolk residents and cost millions to deliver."

Duncan Baker, leader of the Conservative group at NNDC, however, said: "That facility was going to be something to be proud of for generations to come.

"I would have believed in that project, 100pc."

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