Kent County Cricket Club has unveiled new plans for the future development of its County Ground at Beckenham. If those plans do not win planning approval from the local authority, however, then Kent cricket’s presence in its highly-populated metropolitan area of South-East London will be lost.
The club has operated the Beckenham Ground since 2002, hosting County Championship, tourist and especially Twenty20 Cup matches. The pitch has won praise from both Kent and visiting players, and some memorable individual performances on the traditionally hard and fast surface include Azhar Mahmood’s recent Friends Life t20 hundred against Gloucestershire and Wahab Riaz’s hat-trick in the same match.
Yet over this period Kent have also suffered significant operating losses in the running of the ground. The club has decided this is not a sustainable situation and, therefore, the need for new revenue-generating facilities is seen as vital.
A planning application will now be submitted jointly with Leander Sports & Leisure (the land owner) and will include plans for a new all-weather hockey pitch, an indoor multi-use training centre, a health and fitness centre, improved permanent spectator seating and a small conference facility. The funding for these facilities will be raised through enabling development.
Kent expect that the proposed new facilities will provide the required revenue streams to create a viable future for the ground, and in turn ensure that professional cricket can continue to be played in Beckenham. But if the planning application, which will be submitted shortly, does not receive approval from the London Borough of Bromley the Kent operation of the County Ground at Beckenham will cease.
Jamie Clifford, the Kent chief executive, said: “It is a shame that the club has to consider the prospect of moving away from the ground at Beckenham. However, I believe that the re-development plans offer a future that is not only financially viable, but also secure fantastic facilities for the Bromley area.
“The plan we are submitting will safeguard the long term future of Kent Cricket at Beckenham and has met with widespread approval in our initial consultation process.”