'It's dangerous' - anger as controversial tennis court work begins

Signs were erected at Heigham Park this afternoon as work began on the construction of three new tennis courts.

Signs were erected at Heigham Park this afternoon as work began on the construction of three new tennis courts. - Credit: Lucy Galvin

As work begins on new tennis courts in Norwich, one councillor has hit out at plans saying she was only told of construction beginning hours before, describing it as "dangerous".

Work on three new all-weather hard courts at Heigham Park started earlier this week, where families and councillors have been protesting against plans for over two years.

It comes as children at four nearby schools returned for the first day of term.

Norwich City councillor for Nelson Ward, Lucy Galvin, says the schools were never mentioned in a risk assessment, adding she is concerned for children's safety.

Lucy Galvin, chair of the Marlpit Community Centre. Pic: Paul Harrison.

Lucy Galvin - Credit: Paul Harrison

She said: "I was promised they would let all ward councillors know in advance before work started, so we can make sure communities know.

Banner on hedge

The campaign group's banner, before the hedge was chopped down. - Credit: Lucy Galvin

"It's actually dangerous with plant and all sorts of things coming out of the site in a highly used pedestrian area, with a lot of people walking to school that way.

"There are four schools very close by and they've closed pavements, without mentioning schools on the risk assessment.

Hedge chopped down in park

The Yew hedge has been chopped down at Heigham Park ahead of the creation of new tennis courts. - Credit: Lucy Galvin

"They've chosen to start work on the first day of term in an area with four schools and they also haven't assessed the community feeling on this at all."

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The nearby schools affected by the construction are Recreation Road Infant School, Avenue Junior School, Parkside School and St Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic School.

Locked tennis courts at Heigham Park

The grass tennis courts at Heigham Park are still closed off to the public, with campaigners saying they should be reopened and maintained as they are rather than spending thousands on new all-weather floodlit courts - Credit: Lucy Galvin

Ms Galvin is now asking the council for a consultation and to pause the works so that "a proper risk assessment" can be seen.

She added: "I am asking the council's scrutiny committee about this on Thursday because there are loads of problems with this and to just push ahead is a real dereliction of duty by the council.

"It's going to cost a quarter of a million pounds in an area that doesn't want or need it."

Locked tennis courts at Heigham Park

The grass tennis courts at Heigham Park are still closed off to the public, with campaigners saying they should be reopened and maintained as they are rather than spending thousands on new all-weather floodlit courts - Credit: Lucy Galvin

James Packham at the Heigham Park Consultation Group said he was "disappointed" at the council's "lack of engagement".

He said: "We have tried and tried to get the council to engage with us and they have not, what ever they've done has been mostly dismissive, rather rude and very disappointing."

Today's work at the site has seen it fenced off with security measures put in place, while other parts of the park will remain open.

Work will last 12 weeks.

Norwich City Council has been contacted for comment.

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