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Norwich’s final grass tennis courts remain shut amid uncertainty over future

PUBLISHED: 13:28 22 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:57 22 May 2018

The tennis courts at Heigham Park are locked up. Pic: Dan Grimmer.

The tennis courts at Heigham Park are locked up. Pic: Dan Grimmer.

Archant

The city’s last grass tennis courts remain under lock and key, with uncertainty over their future.

Heigham Park in Norwich. Pic: Dan Grimmer.Heigham Park in Norwich. Pic: Dan Grimmer.

The 10 tennis courts in Heigham Park, off Recreation Road, were closed last summer, after a scheme to replace them with three all-weather courts was withdrawn.

Norwich City Council had made an application to replace the courts - linked to funding from the Lawn Tennis Association.

But there were some 60 objections, including from The Gardens Trust, who said it did not respect the historic status of the Grade II listed park.

The application was withdrawn, with the council saying a new one would be lodged.

Denise Carlo, Green councillor for Nelson ward. Photo: Denise Bradley.Denise Carlo, Green councillor for Nelson ward. Photo: Denise Bradley.

Meanwhile, with the council unable to afford to “heavily subsidise” grass tennis courts, the Heigham Park courts closed last summer and have not re-opened.

However, a group of local people have formed the Heigham Park Community Tennis Courts Group and hope to take on the running and maintenance of four courts.

Peter Cutting, chairman of the group, said: “We accept that 10 courts isn’t viable as there’s just not enough people playing tennis.

“Our plan is that we could take on four of them and maybe the rest of the site could be used for alternative sports provision or a community garden.”

Mr Cutting has written to the council asking for a meeting.

But the council has replied, saying it will not consider transferring the courts, because a previous request from a community group to taken them on had not led to a firm proposal.

Mr Cutting said his group intend to push ahead with a business case in the hope the council will think again.

Denise Carlo, Green city councillor for Nelson ward, said: “Wimbledon is coming up soon and it’s a great shame that the city doesn’t have any public grass tennis courts.”

A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council said the original application was still being revised.

She said: “The council remains committed to delivering quality, affordable, accessible all year round playing surfaces that are economically sustainable into the future.”

She said the grass on the courts had been maintained as “standard grass” to save money.

When asked why reserves could not be used to keep them open, the council said that money was needed to partially fund “financial challenges” faced because of government funding cuts.


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