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Opening of urban sports park, F51, in Folkestone, is behind schedule due to cladding issue

By Sam Williams

The construction of a highly anticipated multi-million pound urban sports park is behind schedule again.

The innovative complex, titled F51, will be built in Folkestone and include first class skating facilities, a boxing gym, function room, climbing wall and café, when complete.

The indoor centre - currently being built on the corner of Tontine Street and Dover Road - is said to be the first of its kind in the world and has received celebrity endorsements from American rapper MC Hammer and pro-skater Bam Margera.

CGI of the urban sports park - image courtesy Guy Hollaway Architects
CGI of the urban sports park - image courtesy Guy Hollaway Architects

It is being funded and developed by the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust as part of a wave of regeneration plans for the town.

But it has faced many snags since it was first proposed in 2015 due to its ambitious design and escalating costs.

Its initial £7m price tag doubled and as a result plans were scaled back with a top floor function room and basement level being removed and its initial six storey plans reduced to four.

The latest complication arises from the design of the cladding and how it will be fixed to the building.

It will feature an indoor skating centre built over several floors
It will feature an indoor skating centre built over several floors

Developers are working on solutions but say a summer 2019 opening date - the latest date suggested by planners - is now unlikely.

Peter Bettley, from the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, said: "Construction of the multi storey urban sports park is behind schedule.

"There are delays relating to the design of the cladding that will be used on the building’s exterior.

"A solution is being engineered but it is taking longer than anticipated given the complexity of the design.

The skate park is still being constructed, and a huge crane remains on site
The skate park is still being constructed, and a huge crane remains on site

"The team dedicated to delivering the project is working hard to resolve this and to complete the building as soon as possible."

Mr Bettley confirmed a contractor is still present on site to continue the work on internal finishing, but said completion of the project is still a few months away: "A new date will be assessed when the solution to the cladding is arrived at.

"This may be disappointing to potential users, but there is absolutely no cost involved to tax payers arising from the delay or any other aspect of the development or construction."

Once complete the centre will be managed by the Shepway Sports Trust.

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