Heigham Park campaigners' survey shows 82pc against hard tennis courts

Heigham Park campaigners call for grass court rethink

Campaigners say their survey revealed opposition to Norwich City Council's plans for tennis courts in Heigham Park. - Credit: George Thompson

Campaigners calling for construction of tennis courts in a Norwich park to be halted so consultation can take place say their own survey shows 82pc of people are against the scheme.

Norwich City Council is due to begin work to replace 10 grass tennis courts in Heigham Park with three floodlit, all-weather, hard surface ones.

But campaigners who live near the Jessopp Road park, want the council to consult with them over the project, saying that did not happen correctly previously.

The council says there was consultation as part of the planning process, when 120 objected to the plans, which were agreed in 2018.

The council says there were also discussions with groups and organisations.

But campaigners say that was not pre-application consultation with residents and have been calling for the council to ask people what they want..

Campaigners known as the Heigham Park Consultation Group have conducted their own survey - sending out 3,000 leaflets.

They say 212 people have responded so far, with 82pc against the plans and 85pc wanting consultation.

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And 76pc would prefer the area to remain some kind of green space, accessible by all park users.

Flashback to when the Heigham Park tennis courts were in use. Photo: Bill Smith

Flashback to when the grass courts were in use. - Credit: Archant © 2013

Members of the group also surveyed existing tennis courts in Eaton Park, comparing the council's booking system information with actual use of the courts.

They said their survey found that at what they defined as "peak times", when at least five of the seven courts had been booked, they were fully occupied on just six occasions.

They said that indicated a high level of no-shows, and called into question the council's argument that the Heigham Park courts were needed.

Anthony Mullen, from the Heigham Park Consultation Group, said the point of the survey was to make the case for "proper consultation, with the right people".

He said: "If you took our survey as an indicator of what people actually want it's perfect irony that by unlocking the gates, mowing some paths into the meadow that's taken over the old courts, scattering a few benches and tables about, many more people would be happier with that as an outcome than a set of floodlit all-weather tennis courts."

A Norwich City Council spokesperson said the council's position had not changed and said: "From the very beginning, this project has been about improving facilities for our residents and investing in our historic and much-loved parks. It is also an important part of delivering our priority to improve health and wellbeing – more important now than ever.

"During the process we have listened to and considered, the views of community groups.

“The importance of delivering this sporting facility for our residents can’t be underestimated in terms of the associated health benefits as well as reducing anti-social behaviour and vandalism through the increased use of the park.”