This project delivered three all-weather floodlit hard tennis courts at Heigham Park, and two at Lakenham Recreation Ground. The new courts formed part of the Norwich Parks Tennis scheme, which successfully offers tennis and coaching across three other community parks in Norwich: Eaton Park, Waterloo Park and Harford Park. This scheme is nationally recognised as an exemplar of best practice in tennis provision and offers affordable access to sport for all. All the courts have automatic entry systems, enabling them to be booked online or by smartphone.
The new courts replaced aging grass and hardcourts which were no longer fit for use – Heigham park grass courts had been shut since 2017. The new all-weather surface extends the playing season and reduces maintenance costs. Ecological enhancements included bird boxes, bee boxes and creating hibernacula in areas of the park to increase the biodiversity and hedgehog access in and out of the tennis court area.
The GNGB’s funding of £103,000 was essential to the delivery of this project, which would not have been able to go ahead without the Board’s support. The additional court availability supports affordable and financially sustainable tennis to a wider and growing customer base. Households can join the scheme for a low-cost annual fees (encouraging the whole household to become more active), or ad-hoc access is available via ‘pay and play’.
The tennis courts at Lakenham Recreation Ground opened in October 2021. The tennis court at Heigham Park opened in July 2022, and a new heritage sunflower gate to the tennis courts has been installed. In it’s first month since opening, Heigham Park exceeded expectations and had 188 hour court bookings per court, exceeding Eaton Park 178 hours per court. The courts at Lakenham were also performing well with a total of 281 court hours across the two courts The courts at Lakenham have also seen a reduction in reported antisocial behaviour.