The long-term future of Beckenham as a Kent cricket venue appears assured after local planners decided to back a joint scheme to further redevelop the former Lloyds/TSB Social Club Ground.
A meeting of the London Borough of Bromley’s planning committee gave the go-ahead – by nine votes to six – to the project backed and proposed by Kent County Cricket Club and its Beckenham landlords, Leander Holdings, which plans to extend the club’s operation at the ground in Worsley Bridge Road.
The scheme includes 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. Funding will be raised through enabling development.
Kent expect the proposed new facilities to provide the required revenue streams to create a viable future for the ground which has proved a burden on its financial resources since being initially re-instated as a county cricket venue in 2002, having previously lain fallow for many years.
In welcoming the planning committee’s decision, Kent’s chief executive officer Jamie Clifford said: “I am delighted Bromley Council have approved our scheme. We have been determined to secure a long-term base in the Greater London area for the county, and this decision brings that hope a step closer.
“The cricketing county of Kent covers a very large area and we have always been keen to take cricket to all parts of the county. Most importantly, I now look forward to establishing a thriving sporting centre of excellence that will help us considerably in the development of talented young cricketers.
“I anticipate that this, coupled with our community programmes, will bring something very special and lasting to the Bromley area.”
The club will decide at their next committee meeting on January 17 whether their Friends Life t20 clash with Surrey, scheduled to be played at Beckenham on Sunday June 17, will now be confirmed as going ahead at the ground.
* Kent, meanwhile, have also confirmed that Canterbury City Council have approved a £1.5 million loan to the club, following discussions between the two parties over the past six months.
The loan will part fund the on-going second phase of redevelopment at the St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury, with the first phase having been funded largely from the proceeds of sales of land for housing, and an initial loan from the City Council.
Clifford said: “Canterbury City Council have been tremendously supportive of the club in realising the vision for the St Lawrence Ground. I am delighted that we will now be able to conclude the current phase of the redevelopment programme.
“This news, coupled with the recent signing of a long term deal with Sainsbury’s, leaves the project in very good shape. The final piece of the jigsaw is the development of a 130-bedroom hotel, and discussions on this are progressing well too.”