Sporting wish list for Norwich revealed

A new swimming pool, an indoor tennis centre, new parks and extra gyms and sports halls will be needed to ensure Norwich's growing population is able to keep healthy over the next 15 years, a report has revealed.

With more than 3,000 new homes earmarked to be built in Norwich by 2026, council bosses are trying to get to grips with what will be needed in the way of sport and recreation.

Councillors heard at a meeting this week how an assessment had revealed a 'significant shortage' of outdoor sports spaces and a need for more indoor sports facilities to cope with the growing population of the city.

Within 15 years, an extra 16,800 people are predicted to be living in Norwich and officers at the city council, who are drawing up blueprints for where homes might be built over that period, are figuring out where and what sort of open space and sports facilities will need to go hand in hand with the development.

A document presented to the city council's sustainable development panel revealed a need for swimming pools, more allotments, new 'pocket' parks, sports centres and gyms.

It recommended that Norwich needs a new four-lane 25-metre swimming pool by 2021, possibly at Mile Cross, while community access needs to improve at existing pools at the city's schools.

It also says a new four-court indoor tennis centre is needed by 2021 and another the same size by 2031, with the suggestion those centres should be in the south and west of the city.

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Five more health and fitness centres are needed, while access to sports halls needs to be improved or new ones built.

And the survey suggests about 500 more allotment plots will be needed, increasing the current tally of about 1,480 plots on 17 sites to create closer to 2,000 plots.

Particular shortfalls of allotment space has been identified in the city centre, the east of the city and in northern parts of Lakenham and Town Close wards.

The council hopes that some of the money generated by the new Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) will help pay for the new facilities.

That levy is a fixed amount which developers of all new housing schemes and some new business and leisure facilities will have to pay to fund infrastructure improvements.

Bert Bremner, Norwich City Council cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: 'The whole point is that, with the extra homes which will be built, we will need extra facilities and they will need to be sustainable.

'The Community Infrastructure Levy is a way of getting those facilities we need, while we also hope that some private companies might see an opportunity to provide them.

'I think its fantastic that the sports facilities we do have are so popular, with places like the Sportspark and the Riverside Swimming Pool. 'But there are opportunities for more because the city is going to grow and we need to plan to have the sports facilities in the places where people are going to be living.'

He said a new swimming pool was 'an aspiration' and that it would be good to have it in the Mile Cross area, given the north of the city lost its swimming pool at St Augustine's and the Aquapark at Norwich Sport Village near Asda.

He said: 'It would be fabulous to have one at Mile Cross, but it all depends on where the money is going to come from and whether there is a suitable site.' While there are not many parts of the city which are not within easy reach of a major park, the report also suggests that smaller 'pocket' parks could be created within new developments.

The main areas identified as having a shortfall of formal parks is the city centre and wards to the east of the city, including Mancroft, Thorpe Hamlet and Crome.

The profile of sport will be given a huge boost next year, with the London Olympics and Paralympics, with Active Norfolk having set up Norfolk Pledge 2012 to try to get 2,012 people to sign up for a new sport or activity.

• What do you think of the current level of sports provision in Norwich? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email