Residents to protest in park over axing of grass tennis courts
PUBLISHED: 08:23 19 September 2020 | UPDATED: 12:13 19 September 2020
Residents are set to stage a last-ditch protest against the city council’s controversial plan to build new all-weather tennis courts in a Norwich park.
In 2017, Norwich City Council closed the public grass courts at Heigham Park in order to build three new floodlit all-weather tennis courts, as part of plans to expand the Parks Tennis service.
And residents are set to demonstrate outside the park on Monday, September 21, at 11am, to show their support for retaining the grass courts.
Protestors will gather along the yew hedge surrounding the park along The Avenues, which would be cut through if the tennis court plans move ahead.
A 38 Degrees petition has garnered 640 signatures and will be presented at a remote meeting of the full city council on Tuesday, September 22.
Teresa Belton who lives on Jessopp Road next to Heigham Park will present the petition, titled Norwich People Before Tennis Courts, at the meeting.
She said: “Heigham Park has just one grass playing field which is subject to intensive and sometimes conflicting uses from dog walkers, families relaxing with small children and people playing football.
“Allowing the public to use former grass courts for quiet recreation and for wildlife projects such as a wildflower area and a pond would enable many more people to enjoy the park safely.”
The petition states: “We call on the cabinet of Norwich city council to leave the old lawn tennis courts in Heigham Park as green space for community use and wildlife.”
The petition also calls on the council to “redirect the approximately £200,000 earmarked to create hard, floodlit courts towards spending that will benefit local people in real, urgent need”.
And Denise Carlo, Green Party city councillor for Nelson ward said: “Norwich City Council has a £1.3million overspend due to Covid-19.
“The council needs to find a further £3 million of savings.
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“We hope that the council will abandon its plans for all-weather courts in Heigham Park in its forthcoming capital programme review and allow the community to take over the grass”.
A city council spokesperson, when previously asked about the petition, said the authority’s position on the issue had not changed, and stated: “We have nothing to add.”
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