New courts, please! Tennis controversy continues in Norwich

Heigham Park in March 2022

Heigham Park in March 2022 - Credit: George Thompson

Wimbledon may be capturing the nation's attention but in Norwich the opening of controversial new tennis courts remains on hold - because they have still not been painted the correct colour.

Heigham Park tennis courts, to the west of the city centre, had been due to open in April but so far no balls have been served on the courts.

Playing tennis at Heigham Park in the July heatwave. Photo: Bill Smith

The grass courts at Heigham Park in use back in 2013 - Credit: Archant © 2013

Now, almost three months later, Norwich City Council has admitted this is partly because the court still needs to be painted green.

Earlier this year nets and markings were also set out on the courts, despite it being unusable by the public.

Then and now at Heigham Park

Then and now at Heigham Park - Credit: George Thompson

The new courts have been controversial, with a series of protests from neighbours.

The green colouring is one of two planning conditions - legal obligations - the council has not met.

The other condition was 'sunflower gates' - which are part of the design throughout Heigham Park - which need to be installed.

The gates have been delayed due to manufacturing and global supply chain issues.

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A spokeswoman said the markings and nets were installed on the base coat surface in preparation for informal play and promotion ahead of the official opening.

It is hoped the court will be resurfaced in the coming weeks when the weather is suitable.

Lucy Galvin, Green councillor for the Nelson Ward, said she has asked the council how much it is costing to get the courts surfaced in the correct colour.

"I don’t understand how they came to be the wrong colour and even though the council knew of this, it still went ahead and put nets and lines on them, only to have to remove them," she said.

"It is also embarrassing that the council, as a planning authority, has until it was pointed out to it, failed to comply with several others of its own planning conditions.

"This is all unacceptable, and has caused months of delay and significant extra costs."

The glass jars filled with gloss paint had been smashed all over the courts. 

Glass jars filled with gloss paint were smashed all over the new Heigham park courts - Credit: Claire Read

Ms Galvin said that if nets and lines were only for publicity that would seem costly, she added: "There are still more questions than answers here."

Adam Giles, the cabinet member for community wellbeing, said the scheme will provide high-quality accessible sports facilities.

Mr Giles said that Norwich has been identified by the Lawn Tennis Association as having the highest number of people in the country wanting to play tennis, and these excellent new facilities will seek to meet this demand.

He said: "This Labour-led city council will always prioritise affordable sports facilities and the health and wellbeing benefits that they bring.”