Game, set, match! New tennis courts open in Norwich

Norwich City Council has installed three new modern, all-weather tennis courts at Heigham Park

Norwich City Council has installed three new modern, all-weather tennis courts at Heigham Park - Credit: Norwich City Council

Budding tennis stars have a new place to practice following the launch of new courts in a city park.

Norwich City Council has installed three new modern, all-weather tennis courts in Heigham Park which are now open to find Norwich's answer to Andy Murray or to those who simply want a friendly game with their friends.

The courts have been created with the aim of building on the success of its other city parks tennis schemes at Eaton and Waterloo Parks by providing high quality, accessible and affordable sports facilities which are available all year round.

Adam Giles, Norwich City councillor and cabinet member for community wellbeing, said: “The city council is proud of its record for improving facilities for our residents and investing in our much-loved parks.

“These courts, along with others across the city, form part of the council priorities to improve health and wellbeing, which has become even more important since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Heigham Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Heigham Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

“It’s been quite a journey to get to this point and a lot of hard work in the face of some tough obstacles to deliver these fantastic affordable community facilities.”

Other benefits of the new parks include affordable annual membership and access to high quality coaching programmes through Norwich Parks Tennis programme.

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The 10 original grass courts at Heigham Park were closed in 2017 as they were costing £39,000 per year to maintain and provided an income of £2,700, meaning they were having to be subsidised by £36,300 per year.

According to the council, the upgrade to all weather, low maintenance, LED floodlit courts is expected to save money in upkeep costs.

The original grass courts were also only available during park opening hours in the months of April to September, while the new courts will now be open from 8am to 10pm and for 52 weeks of the year.

But the decision has not been without controversy.

Annie Holgate and Buttons protesting outside the tennis courts

Protestors outside the old tennis courts - Credit: George Thompson

Campaigners were so angered by the authority's decision to remove the city’s last grass courts at Heigham Park to make way for three new hard surface courts that they crowdfunded for a London lawyer to look into the planning process behind it.

Protestors felt the money should have been spent elsewhere with one accusing the council of wasting money on the site at a time when people were going hungry as a result of the rising cost of living.

In a 17-page review the barrister, Daniel Kozelko, said it was his opinion that Norwich City Council (NCC) fell below the standards of good administrative practice.

However, he said there was insufficient information to support the conclusion that the application was predetermined.

Norwich City Council has always argued it followed all the rules.