8:17 a.m. July 21, 2021
The controversy over the plans for three all-weather lit tennis courts in a Norwich park has sparked a call for further consideration of the process surrounding the program.
Work is due to begin to replace 10 grass courts in Heigham Park, near Jessopp Road, with three hard courts.
The Norwich City Council planning committee approved its own plans in 2018, with Labor leaders saying it would save on maintenance costs and make tennis more accessible and cheaper.
But activists called on the council to suspend work to consult people.
They say there had been no proper pre-planning request consultation before. The board said it consulted with the Heigham Park Grass Courts Group, the Gardens Trust, the Lawn Tennis Association and the Friends of Heigham Park.
Activists question a number of elements of the process.
This includes why Councilors in the Nelson Ward received an email in 2017 to be informed that the council was seeking money from the Lawn Tennis Association to replace the courts and was planning to file a development application.
Still, they say, there doesn’t appear to have been a publicly recorded political decision on it prior to this email.
At a council meeting on Tuesday, July 20, Lucy Galvin, Nelson’s Green City Councilor, asked the authority’s audit committee to investigate “the policies and procedures that supported the project.”
Colleague Green Ben Price, who chairs the audit committee, said he would support his request, but the chief financial and risk officer should be made aware of specific issues so that they can be addressed. .
Ms. Galvin also asked the council for a new ecological study of the courts, which have become a meadow since their closure.
Matthew Packer, Labor Cabinet Member for Health and Welfare, said: “An expert, professional and trained environmentalist will undertake verification work based on the results of the survey and identify any changes.”
He added that 60% of the space where the grass pitches were located will remain when new pitches are installed.
He said: “Users of the park will have the opportunity to influence how it is used, this could potentially imply that it remains as a grassland and / or community garden among other alternatives.”