Dear Club Members,
You may have seen some recent critical reports in the local press claiming that the club is “under fire after receiving a £1.25m green belt sweetener” and we would like to respond to this.
As your management committee it is not our intention to get involved in a media squabble about the Stonehouse Park project, but we feel it is necessary to outline the facts of the matter and to tell you why we are supporting the proposed £1.25m investment in a new training and development facility that will enable us to accommodate the 900 plus children who are club members, the 350 additional youngsters we coach (at our own expense) in the local state schools and the 5 senior sides that we field week in week out.
- We heard that Sevenoaks Hockey Club were in discussions with a property developer, Quinn Estates, about relocating to their proposed residential development on the site of the former Broke Hill Golf Club in Knockholt. Quite naturally, and as you would expect, we approached Quinn to find out more and discovered that they thought we owned Knole Paddock and would not be interested in moving
- With a number of people advising Quinn that they should include the rugby club in their proposal, we began discussions
- Very quickly the committee concluded that, whilst there are a number of frustrations in not having control over our own facility, we did not think it was right to consider relocating the rugby club from the Paddock – we all know what a great place it is and no one wants to put at risk the wonderful atmosphere we enjoy
- Quinn, like many developers across the country, were going to press on with their application regardless of whether we were involved or not and it certainly is not our intention to get involved in the politics of the debate about the need for more housing stock in the south east
- However, knowing how desperately short of space we are at the Paddock, especially on a Sunday, we asked Quinn Estates if they would build us a bespoke training and development facility at the venue
- It is an indication of how successful the club has been in youth development that they readily agreed to build us a facility which will feature a 3G artificial pitch (think Allianz Park at Saracens), a full size grass pitch, two junior pitches and a 2,500 sq ft clubhouse
- There are many other benefits attached to the project which will enable us to invest into the Paddock, and the on going rugby experience our players get from the u5s to the Acorns, but the biggest outcome is that the project will secure the long term legacy of Sevenoaks Rugby Club
- As a committee we take inspiration from our former colleagues who created our club back in 1925, and the thousands of people who have trodden the same path we are on, and we concluded that we owe it to the past, present and future members to provide sporting facilities that enable us to enjoy our great game and to ensure that hundreds of children each year are active, fit and healthy
- We will be issuing a full presentation to the whole club, and anyone else who cares about Sevenoaks Rugby, which will explain more and which will ask you to email and write to the council expressing your support for the project
Finally, we want to express that we understand this may be a contentious issue and we have taken collective and personal criticism and abuse for supporting it: we also understand some people may not want to support it and we respect those views entirely but we are charged, by you our members, to safeguard, nurture and protect your club so we have been open and honest about the plan because we believe that it is in the club’s best interests to do so. We hope you support our argument.
Trevor Nicholson, Chairman
Mike Wooldridge, President
Roger McKerlie, Director of Rugby
Danny Jones, Head of Junior Rugby
John Wilkinson, Treasurer
Andy Nicholls, Secretary
Simon Wright, Commercial Manager
Steve Fitzmaurice, Marketing & Communications Manager