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Plans take shape for the Open Championship in Sandwich in 2020

By Beth Robson

Early discussions to ensure the 2020 Open golf championship is Sandwich’s most successful one yet have taken place.

Town councillor MJ Holloway says there are already “several things in the pipeline” to help people living in Sandwich and Deal to go about their daily business. They will also rectify problems of previous years they have pledged as well as providing a legacy of benefits for the area.

It comes after he met with Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, the R&A’s executive director of championships at Sandwich Guildhall.

It was the first meeting between the council and the governing body since it was announced the prestigious event will return to Royal St George’s in three years.

A total of 179,700 people attended the 2011 tournament

A total of 179,700 people attended the 2011 tournament

Appetites have been whetted with this year's tournament starting in two weeks plus the neighbouring Royal Cinque Ports in Deal hosting a final qualifying round this week. But it has also raised concerns about the impact locally when an estimated 200,000 people arrive.

Cllr Holloway said: “We wanted to get in quick to ensure we combat the problems of previous years and work in partnership with The R&A so that whatever we do adds value and is a success.”

Most of the spectators for the four-day event will come by train. One early idea is to permanently extend Sandwich station’s platform.

In 2011 trains had to unload passengers in two stages. At times it blocked the level crossing.

Cllr Holloway said: “People were obstructed going about their daily lives. We’ve got to ensure this doesn’t happen.

“One way of managing the movement of people is to extend the platforms. A temporary extension can be done to allow it to take 12 carriages but so could a permanent extension which would then encourage The Open to be held in Sandwich more often.”

A new pedestrian route bypassing Sandwich town has already been outlined for 2020. It will run from the railway station, along the back of Sir Roger Manwood’s playing fields directly to the course.

An estimated 200,000 people are expected to attend the 2020 tournament

An estimated 200,000 people are expected to attend the 2020 tournament

The Green Walk, which was used in previous years, has been identified as a focus for creating a golfing legacy within the town.

Cllr Holloway said: “The Green Walk is dilapidated. It’s the main footpath used to walk from the town to the beach. It needs widening and upgrading and an idea we asked ourselves was could it be that footpath that we use as a legacy project? In partnership with Dover District Council, Kent County Council and Sandwich Town Council, we could enhance this lovely walkway and call it something that celebrates the golfing link.”

Another idea is to create more pop up style accommodation in the town.

This includes modular-type accommodation, camping sites within walking distance of the course and allowing vehicular access, or even barges on The Quay.

Cllr Holloway said this idea is being piloted at this year’s Open at Royal Birkdale and will be expanded upon depending on its success.

He said: “It’s something to look forward to. People who live in the town say we never benefit from The Open, well now there’s new people in the town and we’re taking a different approach.

“It’s dynamic, it’s realistic and it’s doing things where we know we’ve got a chance on delivering for the town.”

A project board has been formed and the first meeting will be held this month where ideas will be formalised.

 

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