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Wording blunder means Norwich tennis courts consultation is extended

PUBLISHED: 17:32 31 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:32 31 August 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

Consultation over controversial plans which would see the disappearance of the last public grass tennis courts in Norfolk has been extended - because of a blunder over wording.

Members of Heigham Park Grass Tennis Group  with Green city councillor Denise Carlo. PHOTO: Sophie SmithMembers of Heigham Park Grass Tennis Group with Green city councillor Denise Carlo. PHOTO: Sophie Smith

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Park, off Recreation Road, were closed last summer, after a scheme to replace them with three all-weather courts was withdrawn.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 applied to its own planning committee to replace them, linked to funding from the Lawn Tennis Association. The council said it could no longer ‘heavily subsidise’ the maintenance of grass tennis courts.

But, with some 60 objections, including from The Gardens Trust, who said it did not respect the Grade II listed park’s historic status, it was withdrawn

In July, a fresh application was lodged and consultation started. However, the council has had to re-consult, due to a mistake on the wording of their own planning application.

Objectors pointed out the application was to build the hard tennis courts on ‘former grass courts’, when those courts still exist, albeit they are under lock and key and not used.

So, the council has had to revise the wording of the application - taking out the word ‘former’. Consultation is continuing until September 12.

a group of local people have formed the Heigham Park Grass Courts Group and want to take on the running and maintenance of part of the courts.

They recently published a business case for taking on responsibility, but the council has said a decision had been taken not to consider such requests.

Meanwhile, there have been 126 comments received by City Hall, of which 114 are objections. Among objectors are The Gardens Trust.

Margie Hoffnung, conservation officer, said the design is flawed and impacts negatively on the design of the park, which she says would block the main vista to the park’s pavilion.

She urged said: “We would urge your officers to please give this particular heritage site a reprieve, and allow the Heigham Park Grass Tennis Group say, five years, to prove that they can maintain and keep this heritage asset for the city.”

But Sport England are supporting the application, saying it will “provide enhanced tennis facilities for the local community.”

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