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Bid to replace Norwich’s last public grass tennis courts up for approval, despite nearly 120 objections

PUBLISHED: 10:52 01 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:42 01 November 2018

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

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

Archant © 2013

Almost 120 people have objected to a bid to replace Norwich’s last public grass tennis courts - but planning officers say councillors should let the scheme happen.

The tennis courts at Heigham Park are now locked up. Pic: Dan Grimmer.The tennis courts at Heigham Park are now locked up. Pic: Dan Grimmer.

Norwich City Council last year applied to its own planning committee to replace the 10 tennis courts in Heigham Park, off Recreation Road, with three all-weather courts.

City Hall had said it could no longer “heavily subsidise” the maintenance of grass tennis courts and said a tie-up with the Lawn Tennis Association would bring funding for new courts.

But, amid opposition, including from the Gardens Trust, which said it did not respect the Grade II-listed park’s historic status, the application was withdrawn.

However, it was revived earlier this year and will be discussed by the city council’s planning committee on Thursday, November 8.

Peter Cutting. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLYPeter Cutting. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

There have been 119 objections, including from The Gardens Trust again and 10 comments in support of the proposals. Officers are recommending that councillors give the scheme permission.

That was described as “frankly astonishing” by Peter Cutting, from the Heigham Park Grass Courts Group, which had put together a business plan to try to convince the council to allow them to take on the running and maintenance of at least some of the grass courts.

Mr Cutting said: “Obviously, it’s a blow for us that the officers are recommending approval, but I’m frankly astonished that they have, despite the comments of The Gardens Trust over the heritage grounds.

“It’s enormously frustrating that the council just seems intent on putting its head in the sand over our proposal. They just won’t consider our plan because they seem unprepared to take a step back from the juggernaut.

“I understand that it’s about this funding from the Lawn Tennis Association, but we’re proposing an alternative and they just won’t engage over it.”

The Friends of Heigham Park asked its 34 members if they were for, against or neutral. Fourteen said they were against and three for.

But, in recommending approval, officers said, subject to conditions such as a travel information plan and heritage interpretation, “the proposal represents an acceptable development that will enhance recreational facilities for the city as a whole, whilst limiting impacts on the historic park, local amenity, access, biodiversity interest and landscape features.”

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