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Former Premiership rugby side Wasps give major update ahead of speculated move to permanent base at Pedham Place, Swanley

Former Premiership giants Wasps have provided an update on their highly anticipated return to elite rugby amid their speculated move to Kent.

The club, which previously said it was considering a new permanent home near Swanley, has announced on its website that it has found a location in Greater London/Kent – but has not revealed where.

Pedham Place Golf Club could be turned into a rugby stadium. Photo: Ken Baldock
Pedham Place Golf Club could be turned into a rugby stadium. Photo: Ken Baldock

The former top flight side – who went into administration in 2022 and were relegated from the division as a result – are said to be looking at relocating to the county from the Midlands.

Wasps now say they’ve secured “sustainable finance” and “a stadium in which to play” as they attempt to start to rebuild following their collapse.

A club statement says all they need now is “a competition to join” to allow them to “compete at the highest level.”

Previously, the club had asked Sevenoaks council to include an allocation for a 28,000-seat stadium at one of two locations near Swanley – either Pedham Place Golf Club, or nearby Petham Court Farm.

The first location is also in the sights of housing developers, Gladman and Ramac, who want to build a 2,500-home garden village there.

Pedham Place Golf Club might still be the Wasps' final destination
Pedham Place Golf Club might still be the Wasps' final destination

The second location is currently agricultural land.

There had been considerable protest from residents, particularly in Farningham and Eynsford, against the proposals – mainly on traffic grounds.

However, some did welcome the plans – which were subject to consultation – as a chance to bring more sporting opportunities and jobs to the area.

But any hope the uncertainty and speculation could soon be over has been dashed by the clubs’ strategy director Kenny Ballie.

He told KentOnline: “The reference to a stadium in our statement today is about where we will play in the short term as it would take many years to build a new stadium.

“We have agreed a stadium rental as we work through the planning for our new stadium mentioned last year.”

The two proposed development sites
The two proposed development sites

Mr Baillie remained tight-lipped about both the location of the temporary stadium, and the desired destination of the permanent arena.

The club’s announcement reads: “We have made substantial progress in the establishment of a suitable ground in which to play as we progress the planning for our new stadium.

“We can now inform you that we have secured the core sustainable finance and a stadium in which to play.

“All we are waiting for is a competition to join that will allow us to compete at the highest level - and one that shares our values.”

Established in 1867, the Wasps were a founding member of the Rugby Football Union and went on to win the premiership title six times and the European Cup twice.

But in recent times the club has fallen into financial difficulties and went into administration in October 2022.

However, the assets and name were bought up by HALO22, a company owned by Christopher Holland, a previous non-executive director of the club, and since then a small team has been focused on building the recovery of the club and seeing its entry back into rugby league.

Originally based in London, they were more recently at High Wycombe and then Coventry, and they say that Swanley will be sufficiently near to their predominantly London fan-base to be a good place to relocate.

The club wants to build a new multi-purpose stadium to seat up to 28,000 people, which it says when not hosting rugby matches could be used for pop concerts and the like.

In addition, it requires a hotel for visitors, training facilities to include four rugby football pitches, a gym, a barn for equipment, changing rooms, a medical centre and a medical recovery suite.

The club also wants a sports R&D centre, supporting offices, a restaurant and a players’ lounge.

In addition, there is an ambition from the Lawn Tennis Association to share the site with a new indoor and outdoor tennis facility.

The club believes its complex could be squeezed into Pedham Place as part of the wider mixed-use masterplan, or it could be located on the other side of the M25 at Petham Court Farm.

The first stage of any development is to persuade Sevenoaks District Council to allocate the sites for development in its next Local Plan Review.

Both the hopes for a stadium and a garden village near Swanley took a knock recently when National Highways said the proposals had been based on the assumption of planning improvements to Junction three of the M25, which it said might never happen.

The authority said the effect of any development on the highways network remained untested.

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