Update from the Chair: Future of the Club
I hope you are well and enjoying the rugby season. I can’t believe Christmas is approaching fast and the clocks have gone back. It’s certainly been a great start across the club with all four senior sides honouring all games and challenging the top of the table, the academy starting to look amazing with numbers now above 70 and the youth age groups all in great shape.
Today I wanted to give our members a timely update on the future of our club and our collective ambition to make this the best club in the south of England with the facilities our members aspire to have.
As I am sure all of you are aware one of my main ambitions upon becoming the Chair was to give us a clear and defined direction for our Clubs future. I was keen we addressed our three main challenges with our home at St Marks:
Pitches: We needed our pitches/playing surface to be available more often.
Parking: We need to be less of a burden on our neighbours and more convenient to our members.
Clubhouse: We have the best changing rooms in Kent! But we don’t have enough of them and our club room needs extending.
We started off our ‘future of the club’ work by looking at both re-development at St Marks as well as considering a re-location. I am keen to give you an update on both.
Invest heavily in St Marks
As a Board we committed to seeking planning permission for an AGP pitch, to enhance our parking and to build a cricket Pavilion (with changing rooms). We also committed to investing heavily into our pitches.
As many of you will have seen we have recently achieved planning permission to build an AGP pitch, to build 76 additional parking spaces and build a cricket Pavilion. We are delighted with this and are now setting about our various pre-planning conditions and refreshing the costs as well as the business plan.
Relocate to a new home
Whilst we have been seeking our planning permission we have also been looking into the option to relocate from St Marks. For all the time I have been on the Board we have been approached by developers but we have always known the key to achieving this would be unlocking the various covenants on the site. For two years now we have been working with a Developer who has been helping us try to unlock this option.
We believe we have made significant progress here over the past year and now think we are getting nearer to this being an option.
The Board believes it is very close to having a genuine choice to make within a short period of time. This is a pivotal point for the club and its membership and we have been working very hard to ensure that we have all the facts to hand to make this decision. To invest in St Marks or sign an option agreement with a developer to move to a new purpose built location. Our aims remain unchanged – to give our players and members the best facilities in the area.
The Board have asked the development committee to:
Progress the pre-planning conditions and develop a business plan for St Marks investment. This will also include progressing a funding proposal.
Try to finalise an option agreement with the developer, draw up plans for the new location and build a business plan.
The Board are excited by progress this year and have committed to make a final decision for one of the options within 6 months.
We would welcome any thoughts and comments on the options. Any help you can offer would be welcomed (planning, legal, fund raising, Communications, business plans etc). We will also be inviting you all to ‘an evening with the Board’ over the coming weeks where you can ask us any questions you may have.