Construction of three new tennis courts at the Victoria Pleasure Ground, Uckfield, is set to give the sport in schools a boost.
The new courts could be in public use next month, subject to no weather delays.
The scheme will see the courts run in future by a not-for-profit organisation, known as the Urban Tennis Foundation. It will be the town council’s tenant.
Residents wishing to use the courts will have to buy, in advance, “key fobs” from a new website and will be able to book the courts for use.
It will signal the end of “turn up and play” tennis in the town but it does mean people will be able to guarantee use of a court.
The scheme has been designed to give Uckfield good quality courts, where it will be possible to offer coaching.
As part of the agreement between the council and Urban Tennis Foundation, coaching will be offered to residents, subject to demand. Initial proposals are for sessions on Saturday and Sunday mornings, plus two midweek sessions.
One court will always be available for public use.
Old tennis equipment on the site is being sold off by the town council and the money raised will be used to buy an annual key fob for the town’s schools.
“This would see six schools receive group access to the courts and would be a positive use of the proceeds from the sale of the old equipment,” a report to town councillors said.
Members have also been told the new facility will include a practice/rebound wall.
Uckfield Town Council is funding the £76,000 project. A total of £55,000 came from the Section 106 agreement for the Sandpits housing development in Lewes Road, £12,000 from the Section 106 agreement for the Fernley Park development in Eastbourne Road, which was specifically to be spent on the Victoria Pleasure Ground; with £9,000 from the council’s own Victoria development fund.
Section 106 agreements are legally binding on developers which have to pay specified sums to improve infrastructure in return for the development being allowed. It is sometimes called a “roof tax”.
The Lawn Tennis Association has provided a grant to pay for associated costs with setting up the website needed to run the scheme, the key fob technology, gate fabrication costs and to provide training and equipment to “increase participation in the sport across all ages and abilities”.
An aim of the Urban Tennis Foundation is to provide a “sinking fund” to ensure the courts continue without any future financial demands on the town council.
If all goes well, the courts will be in use during February. In late March the contractor will finish off items that need to be done in better weather.
An official opening will take place later in the spring.
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