Published: 00:00, 10 November 2015
The proposed site for Maidstone Rugby Club’s new ground is just over a couple of miles from their current home.
Land in Tovil, off Dean Street, has been put forward for development, with a planning application set to be submitted in spring next year.
Businessman – and rugby club vice-president – Paul Firmin offered to build a new ground as part of a housing development.
At least three sites were under consideration when Maidstone announced their intention to leave The Mote, with Tovil revealed as the preferred option.
Maidstone president Jim Tinsley said: “There’s been a fair bit of work put in, particularly by Paul Firmin’s planning consultants, David Hicken Associates, and they’ve come up with a site which is centred on the old tip at Tovil.
“It’s about 28 hectares which is going to be split not 50-50 but there’s going to be more than enough space for the rugby club, as well as a housing development.
“The beauty about the whole thing is that it’s so convenient to the town, it gives us a site that we can plan whatever way we want.
“It was presented to the council just a couple of weeks ago and the document submitted last week.
“The view from the meeting was that all parties are very excited and encouraging noises are coming from the council with regard to the thing being seen through to fruition.
“Hopefully, although it hasn’t been confirmed yet, a planning application will be submitted in spring next year.”
Maidstone have been in dispute with The Mote since fighting redevelopment proposals that would have seen houses built on the 1st XV pitch. The move to a new ground is likely to take five years, meaning Maidstone require an extension to their lease at The Mote, which runs out in May.
Mr Tinsley is confident they will reach an agreement.
He said: “We’ve just entered into discussions with regard to a new lease.
“We can’t prejudge the outcome of any planning application or any developments so we’ve got to go ahead assuming that we will be at The Mote for as long as we can see ahead.
“We’ll be hoping to negotiate a lease similar to the one we’ve got at the moment.
“The lease ends in May of next year. We’ve got until then and beyond if we need to negotiate but I don’t think it will take that long. It could be three to four months at the most.
“I’m confident we’ll be at The Mote for as long as we need to be. It could be around five years before we’re in a position to move out.”
Maidstone will present proposals to club members.
Rumours they may be moving out of town to Linton crossroads have proved unfounded. And having found a site so close to the town centre, Mr Tinsley anticipates a positive reaction.
He said: “What was discussed quite openly – although it was never confirmed or denied – was that the site Paul Firmin had offered was at Linton crossroads.
“While there was joy at being able to move out and get a site that would be our own, because of the promiximity to the town of this one and the closeness to The Mote and a lot of our members, I think they’ll all be overjoyed.”