The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is offering to apply for funding on behalf of the City Council to improve facilities at Moor Park, Haslam Park and Ashton Park.
All three sites are in need of refurbishment and town hall bosses have been told the work, costing around £150,000, could be paid for by an LTA fund if the local authority agrees to a new system of court management using an electronic entry system. to combat abuse and vandalism.
The Council Cabinet will be asked to approve the grant application at its meeting next week.
If successful, the improvements won’t cost Preston a penny, although the authority will have to pay an annual fee to cover the upkeep of the entrance gates at each site – at a total cost of £1,800.
The City Council says it has worked with the LTA for several years on a program to improve access to tennis in Preston.
As early as 2012, the LTA commissioned a report on board-owned tennis facilities which found that resurfacing, court marking, net upgrades and lighting improvements were needed to “increase public participation and enhance the gaming experience” in sports.
Another 2019 survey by the Central Lancashire Play Pitch Strategy (PPS) also identified issues with the courts.
A report to be considered by the firm next Wednesday states: “Moor Park, Haslam and Ashton Parks Courts in Preston have been identified as areas of high pent-up demand at a level at which the LTA is keen to develop the sites by providing investment and a sustainable operating model.”
Moor Park, which has six tennis courts on its St Thomas’s Road site, is listed as being in poor condition and in need of ‘major refurbishment’. Four of its courts have metal nets, while the other two do not.
“The revetments have failed or are failing, and the fencing is damaged and difficult to maintain to safety standards. The site also attracts anti-social behavior which may be linked to its lack of use for sport,” indicates the report.
A small multipurpose play area could also be noted to provide two junior courts without nets.
The Haslam Park (three courts) and Ashton Park (two courts) venues are considered to be in “standard” condition, but would benefit from smaller scale investment.
The LTA says £100,000 needs to be spent on Moor Park to upgrade its tennis facilities, while Haslam and Ashton Parks only need £25,000 each.
“These three sites have been identified as the Council-owned sites with the greatest potential to benefit from investments and the implementation of a new sustainable operating model,” the report said.
Under the agreement, the sites would all remain under the ownership and maintenance of the council, although the LTA arranges for a company to manage them.
A condition for receiving this funding is that a new management system should be put in place.
This would involve the installation of an entry system at the three venues and players would have to book online and pay for the rental of the pitch. An access code or QR code would be required to open the door.
The hourly rates for the use of the courts will be revised every 12 months. Courts are expected to be free between 7am and 3pm Monday to Friday and cost £2 per hour between 3pm and 10pm on weekdays and 7am and 10pm at weekends.
The tennis courts in another part of Moor Park – located in the multipurpose play area near the observatory – as well as the Frenchwood Recreation Ground will remain free and accessible at all times.