Havering’s public tennis courts, some of which were refurbished in recent months, will soon charge people to use them.

The courts in Harold Wood Park, Haynes Park, Lodge Farm Park and Raphael Park were shut since July for a £390,000 makeover project carried out by Havering Council in partnership with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).

A council spokesperson has said that all the courts are due to re-open by mid-December, with the Haynes and Harold Wood ones already open.

With the exception of Raphael Park, they are free to use but the council confirmed charges will be introduced for all its courts from next spring.

The spokesperson said: “There will be an introduction of a charge to book courts through the new ‘Clubspark’ system from spring 2024.

“The charges will be in line with other boroughs.”

Read More: Havering tennis courts close for summer to undergo refurb

At the same time, they added, the council will be working with the LTA to provide a “range of free regular activities” across all the courts.

This will include organised free training sessions for all ages with equipment provided.

The spokesperson said: “Local tennis leagues will also continue to provide similar opportunities to get active through local sports competitions.”

David Hammond, the head coach at Raphael Park Tennis Club, told the Recorder that while it has always had a charge for use of the tennis court - ranging between £3 and £4 - the new fees could be capped to £6.

While he did not believe this would make a big difference to regular users of their tennis court, he said it may be an issue for other sites.

He said: “I think LTA’s model is that all the courts must be self-sustaining as I see it and they have spent a lot of money on this. So, I understand why they want people to pay.

“I don’t think for people who come to Raphael it will be a big problem, but for other places it might cause a bit of upset.”

A spokesperson for Friends of Raphael and Lodge Farm Park said the main issue for their group was not the cost itself but the timing of the repairs.

They added: “The greatest frustration from our perspective and that of the public is the timing of the works which meant they were unavailable for a period of the summer and the length of time it’s taken.”