Transforming tennis in public parks for Southend residents

Work is almost complete on the refurbishment of ten tennis courts located in five public parks across Southend.

A newly refurbished tennis court can be seen through a mesh wire fence.

The tennis courts are located at Southchurch Park, Bonchurch Park, Cavendish Gardens, Milton Gardens and Shoebury Park. Gunners Park has also had a smart gate system installed to enable online bookings.

The project has seen £275,000 of investment by the UK Government and LTA Tennis Foundation, delivered by the LTA, with £40,000 also invested by the council.

The work will breathe new life into park tennis courts across the city and help ensure that quality facilities are available for Southend residents and open up the sport to many more people.

The council will also work with Fusion Lifestyle to deliver a range of activities across the park sites including weekly organised free park tennis sessions for all ages, playing levels and experience, where equipment is provided. This means that people will not need someone to play with or to have their own racket. Local Tennis Leagues will also provide friendly, sociable, opportunities to get active through local competition.

Cllr Derek Jarvis, cabinet member for arts, culture, heritage and leisure, said: “This investment will see our public park tennis courts brought back to life for the benefit of local residents through renovation works and improved court accessibility with new gate-access technology and booking systems.

“Park tennis courts are vital in providing opportunities for children and adults to get active, delivering significant physical and mental health and wellbeing benefits to participants. Working with the LTA and Fusion Lifestyle, we want tennis to be more accessible and hope to encourage many people to get involved.

“To ensure the sustainability of all our tennis courts going forward, we are introducing a nominal charge with fees going towards a ringfenced pot of money for the future maintenance and refurbishment of our tennis courts.

“There is the option of an annual membership for just under £45, giving access to 17 courts in eight parks across the city, 365 days a year. For those who prefer not to commit to the great value annual membership, there will also be the option of the ‘Pay and Play’ scheme which we have been running very successfully at Chalkwell Park and Priory Park since 2015.”

Julie Porter, Chief Operating Officer at the LTA, added: “We are delighted to be working with Southend-on-Sea City Council to improve their park tennis facilities and provide more opportunities for anyone to pick up a racket and get active.

“This investment is part of the UK Government and LTA's Parks Tennis Project and will mean that courts will be available for people to use for years to come. We will also be working closely with Southend-on-Sea City Council to ensure that the local community have a range of accessible opportunities to get on court and open up our sport to many more people.”

Anthony Cawley, CEO of Fusion Lifestyle, said: “We're delighted that funding from the government and the LTA has made the refurbishment of these courts possible and we’re looking forward to delivering a comprehensive tennis programme that makes the sport accessible to all.”

Work on sites started in April 2023 and is anticipated to be completed by September 2023.

All courts and sessions at Southchurch Park, Bonchurch Park, Cavendish Gardens, Milton Gardens, Shoebury Park and Gunners Park will be available to book online via the LTA website.

For annual membership and Pay and Play bookings, visit the Southend Parks tennis website.

Published: 21st August 2023

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