Published: 11:02, 05 November 2020
| Updated: 11:04, 05 November 2020
Four clubs are hoping a move to state-of-the-art pitches that cost them just 25p each will help them match their Canterbury rivals.
Work on Quinn Estates’ multi-million-pound sports hub, on the former Herne Bay Golf Club site, has now come to an end, after the firm spent more than double what it originally planned.
The complex – which includes a pavilion, 4G pitches and a wicket – will act as the base for the town’s hockey, youth football, cricket and tennis clubs.
Mark Quinn, of Quinn Estates, told KentOnline: “We only budgeted £2.5 million, and it cost £6.8 million.
“Add that to the value of the land and that’s probably £10m of kit.
“We were expecting to receive more grant funding for it. Legally, I could have given it over half-finished - but I did it because I said I was going to do it.
“The clubs paid me £1 for the leases between the four of them – so that’s 25p for 125 years. In another 125 years, they’ll only have to pay another pound.”
Mr Quinn’s bold plans for the site, which included a 572-home estate, were originally snubbed by Canterbury City Council in 2014, amid fears there would be an increase in traffic.
However, they were approved by the local authority the following year .
The hub, which was formally completed about a fortnight ago, has a clubhouse, tennis pavilion and six courts, two synthetic pitches and a cricket wicket and nets.
“If you go down there on a Saturday, there will probably be about 400 or 500 people,” Mr Quinn continued.
“I went down there the other day and I couldn’t park my car because there wasn’t a space – we gave them 120 spaces.
“I repurposed a piece of land that was used for quite an elitist sport [golf] and done something really special with it.
“It’s probably the biggest sports facility built in the recent past in this area.
“Those facilities are so good that they could produce an Olympian, or someone of that level.”
Herne Bay Tennis Club started using the courts about a fortnight ago, while cricketers will start playing at the hub once the square is laid.
Despite only finalising the leases last month, Herne Bay Hockey Club started using its pitch last year, after the first phase of the development was completed .
Its chairman, Lucy Marks, says the club had been without a permanent home and therefore had to hire one of the pitches at Herne Bay High.
“We did have our own pitch in Beacon Road, but we hadn’t played on it for about 15 years because it’s not a surface we could use,” she added.
“The sports hub has given us a future. It will allow us to engage with all of the schools so we can offer the same level of access to hockey that children in Canterbury get.
“The standard of the facilities is really high.
“I think that’s where we struggled, as in Canterbury there are some available at private schools and there’s Canterbury Hockey Club – so a lot of decent players have gone over there.”
Herne Bay Youth Football Club secretary Jon Warden says the move means it will no longer have to call off games due to waterlogged pitches.
“This is an absolute godsend,” he said. “It guarantees that our games will go ahead.
“Before we were moving around local council and school pitches – but now we’ve got our own home and a clubhouse that’ll be there for years to come.”