Kent’s playing future at their satellite county ground in Beckenham appears to be hanging in the balance following a stalemate in their latest round of planning talks with the local council.
The London Borough of Bromley Development Control Committee met last week with officials from the county club and ground owners, Leander Holdings, to consider the outline planning application that could lead to redevelopment of the Worsley Bridge Road ground.
The ambitious application includes plans for a new all-weather hockey pitch, an indoor multi-use training centre, a health and fitness centre, improved permanent spectator seating as well as a small conference facility. The scheme would be funded through enabling development.
However, the borough’s Development Control Committee voted to defer a decision on the submitted outline planning application, leaving Kent and their landlords to await a new timetable for further talks.
Kent’s chief executive, Jamie Clifford, said: “There was an excellent debate on the merits of the proposed development. Unfortunately the committee did not reach a definitive conclusion, but I am hopeful that planning permission will be granted and that the long-term future of Kent’s involvement at the ground will be secured.
“The scheme is extremely exciting and would deliver a venue of true sporting excellence. I believe that we have brought something very special to the borough over the last ten years – not just in terms of professional cricket being played, but also considerable development in the area. We all remain determined to see this continue.”
Since its initial refurbishment in 2002-2003, the former Lloyds/TSB Social Club ground off Copers Cope Road has proved popular with Kent’s batsmen, who appreciate the hard, fast and true pitches at the venue in Metropolitan Kent.
However, the ground has proved a burden on Kent’s overstretched financial resources and even less popular with supporters who bemoan the lack of covered seating, poor viewing and inadequate permanent facilities, such as toilets and catering. Heavy traffic in the surrounding area has also deterred some fans from travelling.