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Canterbury City FC sweating over future of new ground

Ridlands Farm - proposed site of Canterbury City Football Club
Ridlands Farm - proposed site of Canterbury City Football Club

The cost of a new football stadium in Canterbury has spiralled to £2.9 million – prompting the city council to consider pulling out altogether.

It is willing to pump £2 million into a 1,000-seater ground at Ridlands Farm behind South Canterbury Road, but is reluctant to bankroll the project to the tune of another £900,000.

A report going before members of the council’s ruling executive next Thursday suggests they decide to end their involvement in it.

Canterbury City FC last year asked the council for a £2 million grant to help with building a replacement to the Kingsmead Stadium, which closed in 1999.

But the executive report states that there are a “number of obstacles which cannot be overcome in the existing £2 million budget.

“These include ground enabling works; vehicular access and foul drainage infrastructure.

Issues such as the relocation of common lizards, the creation of public open space, and shelterbelt planting have all added pressure to the budget since the outset”.

Written by the council’s enterprise and culture supremo Dawn Hudd, the report goes on: “There are also concerns about the club’s ability to generate additional income from the facility over and above match days which would inevitably affect the viability of their business plan and the level of opposition to the scheme from the south Canterbury residents.”

The executive has four choices before them including to withdraw completely from the project or to increase the capital budget by £1 million and push ahead with a planning application for Ridlands Farm.

Two other options are to include a future football ground in one of the development areas of the Local Plan or encourage Canterbury City FC to establish a stadium independently of the council.

The meeting takes place at the Guildhall and starts at 6.30pm on Thursday, July 25.

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