Published: 13:32, 14 January 2012
Crowds pictured at Beckenham during a rain shower in last season's Twenty20 clash against Gloucestershire at the Worsley Bridge Road ground. Picture: Barry Goodwin.
by Glenn Pearson
Kent's long-term future at Beckenham has been secured after Bromley Council granted outline planning permission for the redevelopment of the County Ground.
The club had threatened to pull out as the operator of the ground having lost money ever since taking over the lease in 2002, but it's hoped an ambitious redevelopment, which includes an all-weather hockey pitch, indoor training centre, permanent spectator seating and a small conference facility will generate new revenue streams.
Funding for the improved facilities is to be raised through enabling development which will see houses built on the Worsley Bridge Road site.
Kent's chief executive, Jamie Clifford, said: “I am delighted that Bromley Council have approved our scheme. We have been determined to secure a long-term base in the Greater London area for the county and this decision brings that hope a step closer.
"The cricketing county of Kent covers a very big land area and we have always been keen to take cricket to all parts of the county. Most importantly, I now look forward to establishing a thriving sporting centre of excellence, that will help us considerably in the development of talented young cricketers.”
Thursday night's decision came at the same time as Canterbury City Council agreed to loan the club £1.5 million to complete the second phase of the redevelopment of the St Lawrence Ground.
It comes on the back of a £4 million loan the council had already lent the club.
Mr Clifford said: “The support from the City Council is helping us in our desire to create a long-term, financially stable future in Canterbury – with a ground everyone can be proud of.
"This news, coupled with the recent signing of a long-term deal with Sainsbury’s leaves the project in very good shape. The final piece of the jigsaw is the development of a 130-bedroom hotel and discussions on this are progressing well too.”