www.hilly.org.uk Rotating Header Image

Tennis Courts at Hilly Fields: what do you think? questionnaire link here:

We’ve prepared a short questionnaire to give the community a chance to make their views known about the proposed handover of two tennis courts at Hilly Fields to the Lawn Tennis Association, for upgrading and managing as paid for and bookable courts. Further courts in Lewisham will also be handed over in this scheme, including Telegraph Hill, Mountsfield Park, Chinbrook Meadows and the two remaining Courts at Ladywell Fields (South). https://forms.gle/hywKtpGncnbj3gRu8

Hilly Fields Tennis courts – current contract requirements state to ‘maintain facilities to the highest possible standard’


  1. Katherine Glasspool says:

    The courts are a community asset, not a private plot of land. They should be kept for the benefit of all not turned into an facility that is unaffordable for many resident. Can’t believe this scheme of works is happening under a Labour Council. I can only suspect someone is getting a massive backhander here.

  2. Raf says:

    The condition of the HF courts are terrible. This is because people abuse them, sitting on the net, playing football tennis which ruins the net etc.

    Having more LTA courts makes sense, since a greater chance that residents paying the £35 a year (a reasonable sum imo) can actually get a slot (since Ladywell has so much coaching going on).

    I also use the HF courts casually with my family. It is great that we can do so, but I would prefer it if I could book as with Ladywell, Mayow, Sydenham Wells and Manor House etc, since, as mentioned:

    – the HF courts are terrible
    – sometimes people stay on for hours. Even the sign asking people to stay on for 40 mins-1 hour etc has gone. There is no obligation for casual users to get off, so sometimes very upsetting for my kids, who have waited for an hour plus and sometimes then don’t even get on the court.

    It seems to me that the issue is not whether the courts should be LTA funded/run or whatever. It is that Lewisham needs many more tennis courts in the borough, for both casual users and local people keen on playing on decent courts in the local league etc.

  3. Theo says:

    Some laughably misinformed opinions on here. Don’t base your opinion on the perceived “takeover”, base them on the the same scheme at ladywell. The courts there have never been used by the community more.

    (There you pay £35 for a year’s membership and then you book free courts whenever you want – the council and the lta are essentially subsidising tennis)

  4. Jon says:

    Ladywell tennis is a good model but it doesn’t have to be the only model. My son loves playing tennis now but only because we could turn up at Hilly Fields and play for 20 minutes when he was little, often on the spur of the moment . Young children who’ve never swung a racket need somewhere to just go and have a go without their parents having pay a membership fee, or feel they need to use the court for an hour to get there money’s worth (and then decide it’s not worth it). I’ve just walked past Ladywell and only 1 court was being used. That’s fine for adults for can afford it and know they want to play but what about drawing in new players? They don’t care that the courts are a bit ramshackle – my son didn’t, in winter or summer, and now he’s graduated to wanting a good court for an hour – so we can go to Ladywell instead. One size doesn’t fit all

  5. Jon says:

    There’s been a lively discussion about this on Next Door here. My comment above is taken from it so for transparency here is the whole thread with a range of views.


  6. Mo says:

    Hilly Field courts should remain free and no booking required as this makes them more accessible to everyone- irrespective of financial circumstances, age and ability. Children can use them to develop an interest in playing tennis as a sport, spontaneously and without the need to get their parents or carers to pay £35 and negotiate an online booking system.
    A new sign about limiting time on the courts to 1 hour would be helpful.

  7. Magda Szlenkier says:

    I believe the courts should remain available for free as many people enjoy the facility and may not be able to afford the annual fee

  8. Ben says:

    Hi – as a local resident and LTA employee I just wanted to correct a misconception here. Lewisham Council are NOT handing over the courts at Hilly Fields (or any other sites) to the LTA.

    What is happening is the LTA and UK Government are providing funding to renovate the courts as part of the national £30m Park Tennis Court renovation project.

    If approved the proposed investment in Hilly Fields Courts will mean the courts will be resurfaced, have new fencing, new nets and posts installed, and they can be booked online. Online bookings mean that more people can search for the courts (via the LTA website), book them (so they know they can play, rather than turning up and being unable to get on to play) and there will be free tennis sessions run on the courts at designated times each week.

    After the investment the courts will REMAIN Council owned and run by the council via Play Tennis Lewisham with coaching provided by a local provider.

    The decision on whether to charge is one of the council, not the LTA, but charging provides a sustainable solution so any money raised will be re-invested back into the courts to keep them in good condition and avoid them deteriorating again in future years.

    Play Tennis in Lewisham have one of the lowest household season ticket prices in the country at £35 a year and the chosen coaching provider also delivers inclusive programming for all ages and abilities.

    More details about the exiting Lewisham Parks tennis offer which will be extended to Hilly Fields can be found here:


  9. samiD says:

    Massive miss information.

    The turn up and wait situation is not modern and annoying. I’ve seen arguments with people thinking it’s their turn or staying on ‘too long’

    The tennis courts at hilly fields and telegraph hill, are not tennis courts at the moment. Just raggedy bumpy dangerous concrete, with saggy nets inbetween. Terrible lines. It’s not tennis. If your young kid wants to whack a ball, they can do that against a wall or anywhere really.

    Bring on new surfaces, new fencing and a booking system. It’s an amazing system and for £35 is absurdly cheap. If you can afford a tennis racquet and balls, you can afford £35 a year.

  10. Chair says:

    The friends tried to sort out a sign years ago, but were quoted a high price via Glendale. We were told at the time, that the one hour play when others are waiting was understood. In retrospect we should have just sorted out a sign, as it seems the hour play isn’t followed by all.

  11. Chair says:

    The friends have been spending their volunteer time at meetings with the council for over 20 years, including a not so distant one by the tennis courts, where we discussed the available grants, and the need for collaboration to apply for such large sums. We had our eye on sorting the basket ball first, if the funding would not stretch. The ‘mis information’ is the problem with the council choosing to not share their progress or plans. The questionnaire does say:
    “The ownership and management of the courts remains with the Council” so it is not a land sale/transfer;
    “any revenue generated by the hire of the courts is ring-fenced in a ‘sinking fund’ that can only be spent on the maintenance and management of the courts”
    – I don’t think that is misinformation.
    The questionnaire was set up to enable people to have their say and get some community feedback. You and maybe some other tennis players find £35 absurdly cheap, others do not.
    Personally, I can’t actually think of a suitable wall to whack a ball against and I think whacking your ball any where if you want to start playing tennis doesn’t really work.

    The council also let a contract to Glendale which included keeping the surface safe, line marking, removing moss etc. They are also responsible for removing self sown seedlings, which are now quite large trees and cracking the tarmac surface. It wouldn’t cover an upgrade but over the 20 years might have seen them in a better condition than we find them today.

  12. Chair says:

    Hi Ben,
    I keep trying to find where it says ‘Takeover’. As mentioned in the reply above, Lewisham chose not to share their plans with the Friends, despite our ongoing commitment and time to working for park improvements and meetings with them, including about resurfacing the courts.

    The purpose of the questionnaire was to solicit some community opinion. This is helpful as some tennis players think children ‘whacking’ and ‘aimlessly hitting’ balls on a tennis court is a problem. Not every parent finds it easy to sort out booking courts for children to play during the holidays. It also seems that there is already a facility for playing more serious tennis just down the hill in Ladywell. Online bookings mean that lots of children won’t be able to wander up with their rackets for their knock about, so it seems reasonable to flag up the changes to who will be playing. The council also extolled the wonders of a coaching programme, but made it sound free. It is again something that won’t be within the budget of many local families.

    Many thanks for explaining that the council will be the ones charging, as it might open up some flexibility for free drop in sessions for children in the holidays.

  13. Chair says:

    Thanks Jon, we have had lots of similar feedback. The two separate courts in Ladywell near the Catford end are also down for this plan too, so we’ll have no casual access.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *