Published: 08:15, 28 September 2010
| Updated: 08:16, 28 September 2010
Video: Kent captain Rob Key helps start the ground work.
by Adam Williams
Work has finally begun on Kent County Cricket Club’s redevelopment project.
Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for the St Lawrence Ground facelift on Monday, chief executive Jamie Clifford stressed the club is well-placed to deliver the project, despite current financial uncertainty.
He said: “I’m tremendously excited. It’s been a long haul getting to this point, but to know now that the project’s finally going to happen, there’s an opportunity to drastically invest in the club’s future to make sure the infrastructure we’ve got it is as good as it can be.
“There’s a tremendous amount of hope about where we’re trying to get to and that’s what a 21st Century sports fan expects, a standard of facility very different to what we’ve got now. The challenge for us will be to keep the spirit of The St Lawrence Ground and its environment, whilst moving in that direction.”
The £10 million project has suffered delays since planning permission was granted in 2007. The collapse of contractor Persimmon Homes in 2008 left the masterplan on hold, while the economic downturn has also stalled the hotel, health and fitness suite element of the plans.
In a separate aspect, Bellway Homes will build 28 houses and nine flats on the Bat and Ball and nets sites of the ground. Work looks set for completion by September 2011.
The first stages of the ground redevelopment, to be completed by developer Profile Construction, will include installing permanent floodlights, six retractable pylons which could be used up to 12 times a season under planning regulations. Other work due for completion by next season includes upgrades to the Chiesman Pavilion, with an extended ground floor bar area, new seating on the top tier and refurbished changing rooms for the players.
Club captain Rob Key admitted the prospect of returning to fresh facilities next season is an exciting one.
He said: “The landscape of cricket’s changing massively and we have to make sure we’re right at the front of it.
“Things like this will really help the club evolve over the next few years.”