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Courting controversy: Public invited to quiz councillor over proposed changes to Norwich’s Heigham Park tennis courts

PUBLISHED: 13:45 06 April 2017 | UPDATED: 13:57 06 April 2017

Councillors, local residents and tennis lovers angry at proposals by the city council to turn the Heigham Park grass tennis courts into all weather courts. Green councillors, Andrew Boswell, front left; Tim Jones, front centre; and Denise Carlo, front right. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Councillors, local residents and tennis lovers angry at proposals by the city council to turn the Heigham Park grass tennis courts into all weather courts. Green councillors, Andrew Boswell, front left; Tim Jones, front centre; and Denise Carlo, front right. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Controversial proposals to remove Norwich’s last remaining public park grass tennis courts to install floodlit all-weather ones will come under the spotlight at a public meeting.

Roger Ryan, cabinet member for customer care and leisure. Picture: Norwich City CouncilRoger Ryan, cabinet member for customer care and leisure. Picture: Norwich City Council

Plans have been lodged for changes to tennis courts in Harford Park, Lakenham Recreation Ground, Eaton Park and Heigham Park as part of a project which would cost £400,000.

Norwich City Council is looking to join forces with the Lawn Tennis Association for the changes, to replicate the success of the Norwich Parks Tennis programme, which has been running in Eaton Park.

For the revamp to go ahead, it would mean the council would have to invest £140,000 from its capital budget. City Hall officers say that is less than what it would spend maintaining the current courts for three-and-a-half years.

But the council would also have to be successful in a bid for £195,000 from the Lawn Tennis Association, while £55,000 would come from contributions made by housing developers.

If planning permission is secured and the funding bid is successful, the improvement work to the courts could be rolled out from the autumn of 2017.

However, the proposals for Heigham Park have proved to be particularly controversial, with Green councillors among those to criticise the move.

They want to see the grass courts retained. They argue the current grass courts are an important element in the design of the historic park, that there are already 10 floodlit all-weather courts within walking distance of the park and that the council has not been open and transparent about the plans.

Almost a dozen neighbours have also objected, although Historic England has told the council they do not feel they need to be consulted.

Roger Ryan, Labour’s cabinet member for customer care and leisure, will answer questions about the proposals at a public meeting on Saturday.

At a previous council meeting Mr Ryan said it was a “real opportunity” to attract inward investment into parks and would also mean a “significant reduction” in costs.

That meeting has been organised by The Friends of Heigham Park, who are taking a “neutral” stance on the project.

It will take place in the Bowls Club House in the park, off The Avenues, from 11am on Saturday.


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