New sport could come to Norfolk if planning approved

PUBLISHED: 17:20 29 June 2018 | UPDATED: 17:24 29 June 2018

Tom Bobbins. Photograph: Simon Parker

Tom Bobbins. Photograph: Simon Parker


Townsfolk will have a new sport to play if planning permission to build new courts and improve a sports ground are approved.

Plans for the refurbishment of Heywood Health and Fitness. Picture: Tom BobbinsPlans for the refurbishment of Heywood Health and Fitness. Picture: Tom Bobbins

Heywood Health and Fitness in Walcot Road, Diss, has submitted plans to build two new paddle tennis courts, fencing, floodlights and refurbish the existing football pitch.

The club is run by Tom Bobbins, 37, and partner Amy Bobbins, 35, who both live in Diss. The decision for the work came after the pair were able to buy the land the club is built on.

Mr Bobbins said: “The external area of the club really needs some updating so around four months ago my wife and I were able to buy the land the building sits on. After running the business for five and a half years renting we can invest some more money into it.

“I’ve always played racket sports and constantly researching about what’s new and growing and paddle tennis is huge on the continent.”

Tom Bobbins who owns Heywoods Sports and Leisure.  Photo: Sonya DuncanTom Bobbins who owns Heywoods Sports and Leisure. Photo: Sonya Duncan

Paddle tennis is a mixture of squash and tennis with a net in the middle of the court which is enclosed in a cage so can bounce of the back and side walls.

It is usually played in doubles and is Spain’s second largest participation sport but it is struggling to grow in the UK.

Mr Bobbins added: “It is down to some independent people like myself to bite the bullet and go for it.

“We will be the first in Norfolk to have a court with the closest being just south of Colchester.

“When we took the club on it was not in a great state so we have invested a lot of time and money to get it too this point.”

If the application is passed construction will start in November at the cost of £200,000.

South Norfolk councillor for Diss Keith Kiddie said: “Any new sport is to be welcomed and encouraged. It will be great to see what the uptake will be.

“It’s not quite tennis and not quite squash so it might attract a niche market and I’m intrigued to see how it goes.”

The new sport will hopefully get more youngsters active.

Kristen Hall from Active Norfolk said: “Children who are introduced to physical activity at a young age are far more likely to build activity into their lifestyles.

“It’s important for children to try a range of sports as different activities help develop different skills such as endurance and coordination, as well as life skills like confidence.”

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