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Wear Bay Bowls Club members fear they could lose their club if plans for new Roman fort adventure play park go ahead in Folkestone


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Members of a long-standing bowls club feel they have been left out of plans to create a new 'destination park' in Folkestone.

Last month, Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) revealed its plans for a new visitor attraction along the East Cliff, off Wear Bay Road.

Members of Wear Bay Bowls Club are upset they were not consulted over the new scheme. Photo: Google Maps
Members of Wear Bay Bowls Club are upset they were not consulted over the new scheme. Photo: Google Maps

Although in the early stages and still subject to approval, the ambitious scheme could include a Roman fort-themed playground, a cafe with coastal views, adventure golf, car park, picnic spot, toilets and grass recreational area.

The existing tennis courts would also be improved and adapted to be used all year around, and a multi-use games area would be installed.

But not included within the scheme is a space for the existing bowls green, home to Wear Bay Bowls Club.

Now its members say they are disappointed to have not been consulted over the project.

Jim Wraight, 82, who has been chairman of the club for the last eight years, said: "As far as we can recall, we were not consulted over these plans.

Les, Sara, Brian, Jackie, Kath, Roy and Mike, members of Wear Bay Bowls Club, at Finals Day 2020. Photo: Brian Adams
Les, Sara, Brian, Jackie, Kath, Roy and Mike, members of Wear Bay Bowls Club, at Finals Day 2020. Photo: Brian Adams

"It appears the new park caters for the younger generation, but has not remembered the older generation.

"We still have a good membership; the green is used near enough every day.

"From looking at the plans, it would eradicate the bowls club."

The club, which was established more than 70 years ago, has 50 members and competes in the Shepway league.

Mike Austin, captain of the team, added: "We are annoyed that no provision has been made for a bowls green and clubhouse.

The play area proposed for the new 'tourist destination'
The play area proposed for the new 'tourist destination'

"Wear Bay have been playing there since 1948 but these plans have totally disregarded our club."

Jane and Roy Head, both members of the club, are also disappointed that the new scheme does not include a space for bowls.

Mrs Head said: "As avid team members of the club, my partner having played over several years and myself being member over last two years, it is very sad and concerning that the community is being deprived of this amenity which is much used and enjoyed by many.

"We really feel that our chair and committee should have been made aware of these proposals so that we could have been represented in any preliminary discussions held."

But FHDC says no firm decisions have been made over the new destination park.

The proposed cafe with sea views
The proposed cafe with sea views

A council spokesman said: "It’s very early days for the proposed East Cliff project which at this stage has only been circulated to a select group of councillors and key stakeholders.

"Obviously once feedback has been gathered we will be going out to consultation with wider stakeholders - such as the bowls club - and the community to seek comments on the proposals.

"The idea behind the plans is to create a destination park and play area embracing the natural beauty and historic relevance of the site.

"The key aim is for this to be enjoyed by both residents and visitors so feedback from the community is crucial to getting this right.

"We look forward to seeking this in due course once the project is at the right stage."

The council is also in the process of creating another 'visitor destination' within Coast Drive car park, in Littlestone, on Romney Marsh.

Land off Wear Bay Road is earmarked for the scheme. Photo: Google Map
Land off Wear Bay Road is earmarked for the scheme. Photo: Google Map

The plan is to add more than 100 colourful beach huts, toilet and changing facilities and a cafe and concession stand along the beach to attract more visitors.

It follows a similar project in Folkestone, where new wooden beach huts were added along the promenade. Hundreds of people are now on a waiting list for one of the chalets.

Read more: All the latest news from Folkestone

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