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Town's tennis hub 'vanity project' now dead in the water

PUBLISHED: 18:42 24 July 2019 | UPDATED: 18:42 24 July 2019

The previously planned  £3.3m community sports hub in Cromer. Image: NORTH NORFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL

The previously planned £3.3m community sports hub in Cromer. Image: NORTH NORFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL

Archant

Plans for a £3.3 million tennis and community sports hub have been declared dead in the water.

An artist's impression inside the proposed sports hub in Cromer. Picture: NNDCAn artist's impression inside the proposed sports hub in Cromer. Picture: NNDC

The centre, which wold have been built at Cromer Academy, partly on land transferred to the school by the tennis club, was labelled a "vanity project" by North Norfolk District Council leader Sarah Butikofer.

Mrs Butikofer, speaking at a full council meeting on Wednesday evening, said the hub would likely be cancelled.

Liberal Democrat Mrs Butikofer, said: "This vanity project by the previous [Conservative] administration failed to receive the backing of the Lawn Tennis Association who refused to put money into its development, as they were not persuaded by the business case for it.

"Regardless of this obvious red flag our predecessors pushed on with this extravagant project which would benefit only a small number of north Norfolk residents and would cost millions to deliver."

Kelvin van Hasselt and other members of Cromer tennis and squash club who disagreed with the plans to create a new sports hub. Picture: Neil DidsburyKelvin van Hasselt and other members of Cromer tennis and squash club who disagreed with the plans to create a new sports hub. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Mrs Butikofer said a final decision would be made by the council's cabinet on September.

She said: "It is likely that the recommendation will be to cancel the project. Communications and decisions taken prior to [local government elections in] May mean it is virtually impossible to continue with the project legally and morally, and we are not minded to throw good money after bad to pursue it, but we continue to negotiate with [the tennis club] at this time."

The scheme would have seen two of the Cromer Lawn Tennis and Squash Association's four outdoor hard courts come under the new hub, with members sharing access with the high school, and able to use the hub's indoor courts.

But club members including chairman Kelvin van Hasselt feared ceding two of their court could lead to the club losing money, and eventually being forced to close down.

Sarah Butikofer, leader of North Norfolk District Council, welcomed the removal of the gate. Picture: ArchantSarah Butikofer, leader of North Norfolk District Council, welcomed the removal of the gate. Picture: Archant

It was originally envisaged the hub would be opened this summer, but the club delayed transferring the ownership of the land needed for it to the academy, so ground work had not yet begun.

-The tennis club is this week hosting its 'county week' which sees teams from Hampshire and Isle of Wight, North Wales, Somerset, Leicestershire, Dorset and Nottinghamshire face off against Norfolk, entry is free.

MORE: Divisions at Cromer tennis club over council's plans to use courts for £3.3m sports hub.

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