The project is part of a nationwide investment by the UK Government and LTA Tennis Foundation, delivered by the LTA, to refurbish public tennis courts across Great Britain, and open up the sport to many more people. The Parks Tennis Project has already been successfully delivered in North Tyneside.
Carol Pyrah, Chief Executive of Urban Green Newcastle, said: “Tennis is one of the most popular sporting activities in city’s parks, and this investment from the Park Tennis Project will give people access to top quality tennis courts right across Newcastle.
“The funding means we can provide free weekly tennis sessions and create safer environments for people using the courts via new gated access. With improved equipment and better facilities, we hope to see more people taking to the courts all year round.”
The tennis courts in Elswick Park, Gosforth Central Park and Paddy Freeman’s Park will benefit from a full resurfacing. Six of the city’s tennis courts will be fully repainted, and where existing nets and posts are in poor condition, they will be replaced. To help people to find and book a tennis court near them, new gate-access technology and booking systems will also be introduced at all seven park tennis courts.
To ensure the long-term future of the tennis courts and make sure they don’t fall into disrepair, a small booking fee of up to four pounds is being introduced to use the courts at Armstrong Park, Exhibition Park, Gosforth Central Park, Leazes Park, and Paddy Freeman’s Park. The tennis courts at Nuns Moor Park and Elswick Park will remain free. All the money will be reinvested back into the tennis courts for the benefit of local communities.
As part of the new upgrades, free, bookable weekly tennis sessions will be available throughout the year on Saturday and Sunday mornings (weather permitting) as part of the Free Park Tennis programme. Alongside the community outreach and coaching programmes, this project will give more people across the city the opportunity to take up the sport and improve their health and wellbeing.
Open to people of all ages, playing levels and experience, Parks Tennis will also work with local Tennis Leagues to provide friendly, sociable, opportunities to get active and get involved.
Julie Porter, Chief Operating Officer at the LTA, said: “We are delighted to be working with Urban Green Newcastle and Newcastle 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 Urban Green Newcastle and Newcastle 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.”
All courts and sessions at all sites will be available to book online via the LTA website, making it far easier to find and book a court or activity.
Works are planned to start at Exhibition Park and Leazes Park first, before moving on to Nunsmoor Park and Paddy Freeman’s Park, followed by the Elswick Park, Gosforth Central Park and Armstrong Park. The works will be staggered so that some facilities will be completed and opened before others, to reduce disruption. Works are typically expected to take between six weeks and two months at each park. Exact start dates are yet to be confirmed as they are weather dependent.
Below you’ll find a helpful set of Frequently Asked Questions about the upgrades to the tennis courts.
Why are the tennis courts in Newcastle’s parks being renovated?
Urban Green Newcastle and Newcastle City Council have secured funding from the UK Government and LTA Tennis Foundation (delivered by the LTA) to refurbish public park tennis courts in Newcastle.
The Parks Tennis Project is part of a nationwide investment to refurbish public tennis courts across Great Britain, and open up the sport to many more people. The Parks Tennis Project has already been successfully delivered in North Tyneside.
Which tennis courts are being renovated?
Armstrong Park Elswick Park Exhibition Park Gosforth Central Park Leazes Park Nuns Moor Park Paddy Freeman’s Park.
When are the works taking place?
Works are planned to start at Exhibition Park and Leazes Park first, before moving on to Nunsmoor Park and Paddy Freeman’s Park, followed by the Elswick Park, Gosforth Central Park and Armstrong Park.
The works will be staggered so that some facilities will be completed and opened before others, to reduce disruption. Works are typically expected to take between six weeks and two months at each park.
Some of the refurbishment works (like the resurfacing) are very weather dependent. We are aiming to put out information on our website and across social media as soon as we have it. This may be on a park-by-park basis. (Please see table above)
The tennis courts in Elswick Park, Gosforth Central Park and Paddy Freeman’s Park will benefit from a full resurfacing.
Elswick Park, Exhibition Park, Gosforth Central Park, Leazes Park, Nuns Moor Park and Paddy Freeman’s Park will be repainted.
Where existing nets and posts are in poor condition they will be replaced.
To improve court booking and reduce anti-social behaviour and vandalism, new gate-access technology and booking systems will also be introduced at all seven park tennis courts.
Over time, Free Park Tennis sessions will also be introduced at all parks. When established, they will take place weekly, on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and be delivered all year round (weather and staffing permitting).
Why is Armstrong Park (adjacent to Heaton Park) not receiving any resurfacing/painting work?
Armstrong Park (adjacent to Heaton Park) was renovated in 2019, and an assessment by the LTA found the tennis courts did not require any further work as they meet the required standard. Gated access will be installed – along with the other sites – to improve availability.
Why are you introducing a charge to use some tennis courts?
A small booking charge ranging from £1 – £2 per player (up to £4 per court) will be introduced at some of the refurbished courts to ensure the maintenance across all sites in the project going forward.
We want to ensure that the new facilities are a long-lasting investment into the city’s parks that can be enjoyed by many for years to come. It is important that the new tennis courts are sustainable, and money can be set aside for repair and maintenance, ensuring they don’t fall into disrepair.
Introducing a small fee to book a court at some parks will help to build up a fund to maintain courts in future years. This funding will be distributed to cover ALL the new court’s maintenance, not just the pay-to-play sites.
It will also support the tennis development programme. We are working with the LTA to ensure there will be weekly free tennis sessions on courts. This means nobody in the local community will be excluded from the chance to pick up a racket and start playing and will hopefully encourage those who are new to the sport to give it a go!
What is Free Park Tennis and how can I get involved?
Free Park Tennis will give everyone the opportunity to use and enjoy the tennis courts. Designed for people eight years old and over (under eights can attend when accompanied by an adult), Free Park Tennis will eventually provide free sessions at all parks on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Weather and staffing permitting, they will take place all year round.
A small booking fee of up to four pounds is being introduced to use the courts at Armstrong Park, Exhibition Park, Gosforth Central Park, Leazes Park, and Paddy Freeman’s Park.
Which tennis courts will be free?
The tennis courts at Nuns Moor Park and Elswick Park will remain free to use but sessions must be booked.
How to do I book a tennis court?
When all the improvement works across all seven parks are complete, members of the public will be able to book courts and sessions at all sites via the LTA website, making it far easier to find and book a court or activity.
After booking via the LTA website, players will receive a confirmation notice that will include a code that can be used to access the court.
A QR code on the gate to the court will also allow people to book a court on arrival, if available. Please note, all sessions start on the hour. For example, players looking to use a court from 15:00-16:00 must book the court prior to 15:00, otherwise the next available session will be 16:00-17:00.
Why are you introducing gated access to the tennis courts?
Gated access has been piloted at park tennis sites successfully for a number of years, and the evidence from sites across the country is that installing gate access technology actually increases participation.
This is because people can book a court online in advance and be confident it will be available when they arrive to play with friends and family, meaning it’s easier to get on court. It also means that free tennis sessions and coaching can be scheduled on the courts at specific times.
Gated access also helps us to encourage courts being used for just tennis, which helps us to maintain the standard of the renovated, professional facilities for future use.
We appreciate the importance of preserving space for children to play freely throughout the parks, and MUGA (multi-use-games-area)’s will still be available across the city to be used on a spontaneous basis. Some of these free-access courts can be found in Nuns Moor, Hodgkin, Exhibition, Walker and Paddy Freeman’s Parks.
Finally, it also helps reduce anti-social behaviour and vandalism which has been a problem on some courts in the past. Sadly, we see anti-social behaviour across all areas of Newcastle’s parks which is very costly to repair. With The Park Tennis Project, we hope to reduce ASB in courts making them safer, more enjoyable spaces to pick up a racket & play. Reacting to ASB in the parks can be very expensive, so reducing it also provides us with more funding for projects like this in the future.
Following the recent findings from Make Space for Girls ( https://www.makespaceforgirls.co.uk/ ) and their Parkwatch report, we also hope that securer courts will be a step in encouraging girls across Newcastle to feel more welcome to enjoy the cities green spaces in a safe environment.
Why aren’t my park courts part of the project?
The decision as to which courts have been selected was down to the proposal from LTA. The grant is only available to dedicated Tennis courts. This excluded any areas that where a multi-sport facility. After reviewing the 7 sites that where selected, the decision to proceed with all 7 sites to ensure the maximum grant available was taken up.
What about other sports courts across the city?
Our partnership with Newcastle City Council & The LTA on the #ParkTennisProject only covers funding for the refurbishment of tennis facilities across the city. Dedicated basketball courts or other MUGA (multi-use-games-area)’s will remain free to use and access as they are now.
Finally, it also helps reduce anti-social behaviour and vandalism which has been a problem on some courts in the past.
Will the basketball courts be affected in anyway?
Basketball courts are not part of the funding to resurface or repaint. At present Basketball courts will remain free to access as a walk up and play provision.
During the construction phase at Gosforth Central Park the basketball court will be closed to the public for Health and Safety until the resurfacing works are completed. Urban Green Newcastle will communicate when this will be.
The basketball courts at Leazes Park may require temporary closure while fence repairs to the perimeter and when repainting takes place. Urban Green Newcastle will communicate when this will take place
Are the new courts just for playing tennis?
We want to encourage the new tennis courts being used for just tennis, as this helps us to maintain the standard of the renovated, professional facilities for future use.
There are still MUGA (multi-use-games-area)’s, basketball courts, Table Tennis, Gym Equipment, Small sided football posts, Skateboard and scooter facilities (in Exhibition and Walker parks) and running/walking accessible across the city.
We are also working with The LTA, our operator and external experts to find out ways we can open up the courts to wheelchair users and accessible variations of the sport, such as racket-ball.
We would like to remind users that dogs are not permitted on the tennis courts.
How much does Urban Green Newcastle make out of this arrangement (apart from not having to refurbish the tennis courts)?
Urban Green Newcastle will not make any profit out of this arrangement.
Any income that comes in will allow us to create a sinking fund for future court maintenance, plus enable the operator to run coaching/tennis development/community outreach.
How has this project been funded?
The Parks Tennis Project is part of a nationwide investment to refurbish public tennis courts across Great Britain and open up the sport to many more people.
Grant funding for this project has been made available by the UK Government and LTA Tennis Foundation (delivered by the LTA) to refurbish public park tennis courts across the country.
The LTA are grant providers (and as with any grant there are a series of conditions about future maintenance and provision of activity).
Newcastle City Council have successfully secured this funding as a grant recipient and have worked closely with us to kick-start refurbishments in Newcastle. The project has therefore been through Cabinet and both parties have signed a grant agreement by which all responsibilities under the grant pass to Urban Green Newcastle.
We are currently in final discussions with a chosen operator who will be responsible for running the courts. This will be funded by income generated by booking charges. We are also working alongside the operator to manage and engage in order to maximise the facilities. A plan for this will be announced prior to the launch of the courts.
I’m part of a student sports society/community group, can I book a regular slot?
As we move forward with the project, we hope to work with the operator to best facilitate those who already regularly use the courts. As the courts begin to open and are up and running across the 7 sites, we will release more information as to how this might work and who to contact to arrange regular bookings.