Proposals for the District’s tennis facilities

We would like to understand residents’ views on:

  1. Proposals to appoint one or more tennis operators for the Council owned tennis venues to run community activities, coaching programmes and manage court bookings
  2. The principle of introducing court charges for Abbey Fields, Kenilworth and Christchurch Gardens, Leamington Spa

The feedback from this consultation will be considered, along with any other evidence, and used to inform decisions made by the Council’s Cabinet later in this year.

Background

The Council is reviewing the management arrangements of Council owned tennis, athletics and football facilities. For tennis, the Council has been working with the Lawn Tennis Association to understand options to improve the tennis facilities and activities on offer.

The aim is to get more people playing tennis and to make the courts more financially sustainable, ensuring the courts will remain open into the future. The purpose of these proposals is therefore to ensure that there is adequate funding and support for the uptake of tennis in the District.

Various organisations and sports clubs have already been consulted as part of the review; this consultation now seeks views from residents about the proposals. 

The Council owns 21 tennis courts:

  • Victoria Park, Leamington - 10 courts
  • Christchurch Gardens, Leamington – 4 courts
  • Abbey Fields, Kenilworth – 5 courts
  • St Nicholas Park, Warwick – 2 courts

A programme of refurbishment is already in progress, including resurfacing and new fencing. The courts in St Nicholas Park, Christchurch Gardens and Victoria Park have already been upgraded in recent years.

There are plans to upgrade the remaining courts in Victoria Park after the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and the courts in Abbey Fields after the completion of swimming pool works in 2023. 

The Council is also looking to install a booking and gate access system, providing an easy way for players to find, book, access and pay for courts online or over the phone. No membership is required.

Currently only the courts at Victoria Park and St Nicholas Park can be pre-booked, meaning that for Abbey Fields and Christchurch Gardens players don’t know in advance if a court will be available.

The refurbishment work, booking and gate access systems are agreed, subject to funding, and do not form part of this consultation.

What we're proposing

Tennis operators

The Council wants to encourage more people to be physically active and the tennis courts play an important role in this. However, at present there are no organised, community activities or coaching programmes on offer on three out of the four sites (Christchurch Gardens, Abbey Fields, and St Nicholas Park).

The Council is therefore proposing to appoint one or more tennis operators to run an affordable and inclusive tennis programme at each of the sites, with the aim of getting more people taking part. 

The programmes will include:

  • Tennis For Free – free weekly sessions open to the whole community
  • An inclusive programme, including walking and disability tennis
  • Accessible and affordable adult and junior coaching
  • Children’s holiday camps
  • Local Tennis Leagues – an opportunity to play friendly competitive tennis
  • Racquets and balls will also be available for hire, so anyone can turn up and play

In addition, the courts would also remain available for anyone to book to play tennis outside of the programmed activities.

If this proposal progresses, the Council will run a tender exercise next year for interested tennis operators, which could see the new operator(s) in place towards the end of 2022. The purpose of the tender will be to find the right operator to provide the best community programme for each venue.

This could result in an arrangement ranging from a different tennis operator for each site, to one operator running all of the sites.

Extending court hire charges

The pandemic and increased costs of delivering public services means the Council is facing increasing financial pressures. While the Council has some funding for the current refurbishments (to 2023), a future budget is required for ongoing maintenance and upkeep.

Currently, the income received does not cover the ongoing costs for running the courts. This means there is a risk that the Council will not be able to afford to run the tennis venues in the future. 

At present, some courts are free (Abbey Fields and Christchurch Gardens), and others have a charge (Victoria Park and St Nicholas Park). The Council is proposing to introduce future charging for Abbey Fields and Christchurch Gardens. The additional income will be used to pay for the upkeep of the courts and will be important to ensure that the tennis courts are adequately funded into the future.

This consultation is about the principle of charging at these two sites. The detail of the pricing will be worked up at the next stage. It will include hourly rental charges and also annual passes. Some free sessions and concessionary rates would remain.

The pricing policy will take account of similar facilities in the area and will be designed to ensure tennis is an accessible and affordable activity for local communities. The revised charges would be introduced on a venue-by-venue basis and only once the planned refurbishment work has been completed, which in the case of Abbey Fields, is planned for 2023, following the completion of the swimming pool redevelopment.

Have your say

We're asking for your views on these proposals, in a consultation that closes on 24 October 2021.

Have your say on the proposals