Campaigners angry as park hedge cut down for tennis court scheme

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

Campaigners against the building of hard tennis courts in a city park have said they are appalled the council has chopped down part of a century-old yew hedge there.

And they have pledged to keep fighting to stop the grass tennis courts at Norwich's Heigham Park being replaced with floodlit hard courts - saying "we won't be steamrollered".

Campaigners in a park

Campaigners want Norwich City Council to pause plans for hard tennis courts at Heigham Park for consultation. - Credit: Lucy Galvin

Last week, campaigners held a meeting at the park, off Jessopp Road, and wrote to Norwich City Council urging the authority to think again over proposals the planning committee approved in 2018, despite almost 120 objections.

But, on Monday, June 21, council workers cut down part of a yew hedge as part of preparatory work for the creation of the new courts.

The campaigners had placed a banner over the hedge, and the workers cut around it.

Banner on hedge

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

Lucy Galvin, Green Nelson ward councillor, said: "The council can send in the bulldozers, but it won't flatten community spirit or change how much they care and want to be involved.

"It is a poor reflection on council capacity to work with communities and council priorities that money is being spent on this scheme without any local involvement. A pause and consultation now would pay dividends.

"I have asked to see details of the ecological survey regarding nesting birds and also asked that the council consult and have the courtesy to notify the community on timelines, rather than just destroying part of a nearly 100 year old yew hedge as they have done this morning."

Lucy Galvin, Lucy Galvin, strategic advisor for the Norfolk Coast Partnership. Picture: Paul Harriso

Lucy Galvin, Green city councillor for Nelson. - Credit: Paul Harrison

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Campaigner James Packham, said: "We will not be steamrollered. We will continue to oppose this work and fight for a consultation so the park can have a positive future."

A council spokesperson said: "We have carried out all statutory work associated with this scheme throughout, including a rigorous planning process.

"The latest element of this has been an ecological review of the hedgerow to check for bird nesting sites – none were found so the work has been carried out to cut it back to allow greater access.

“Our commitment to deliver this project and high quality, value for money, year-round tennis provision for all our residents throughout the city has not changed and we’ll continue to engage with users of the park and courts.”