Published: 12:25, 22 March 2021
| Updated: 16:24, 22 March 2021
Construction is about to start for an anticipated full-scale Open championship in Sandwich this summer.
The 149th golf tournament will take place at Royal St George's for one week from Sunday, July 11 to July 18, a year later than planned because of the pandemic.
Organising body The R&A is now consulting with members of the public about how the on-course and wider infrastructure will be delivered.
But it re-iterated it is prepared for a scaled-down or even a 'behind closed doors' model if the government places further restrictions on mass gatherings or it may impose stricter health checks on attendees if required.
A leaflet to residents from the R&A details how parking restrictions and the re-routing of a section of the Saxon Shore Way footpath are the main alterations that will affect the people living near the venue.
The document says: "Public Footpath EE231, which passes through Royal St George’s Golf Club, will be closed for its entire length (from North Stream to Prince’s Drive) from Tuesday, April 6 until Friday, August 20. An alternative route between the Green Wall path and the beach will be signposted along public footpaths ES1 and EE230 via the Stour Valley Walk.
"This footpath closure is necessary to ensure the safety of members of the public and contractors due to the construction work taking place around the golf course."
Temporary restrictions on parking will apply to St George’s Road from Monday, March 29 until Saturday, July 10. There will be no waiting signs installed. The restrictions will continue after The Open for removal of the infrastructure.
It comes as upgrades to the town's railway station are completed offering lasting improvements to rail users.
The longer platforms are to accommodate 12-carriage trains and permanently prevent 'overhang' at the New Street/Dover Road level crossing. This will reduce the amount of times the gates are down.
There is also a new footbridge linking the extended platform one with a new pedestrian route to the Royal St George’s Golf Club for spectators. The footbridge will be used only during The Open. A new additional entrance on platform 1 will assist with passenger movement and to ease congestion to and from the station.
Johnnie Cole-Hamilton, executive director – Championships at The R&A, said: “We are pleased that the station improvements and new pedestrian route have been completed ahead of The Open in July. They will enhance the experience for those fans travelling by rail to and from Sandwich and minimise disruption to local residents.”
Cllr Paul Graeme, The Right Worshipful Mayor of Sandwich, said: “We’re delighted to see the improvements to Sandwich station completed.
“The Town of Sandwich is looking forward to giving a warm welcome to the golfers and spectators at The 149th Open at Royal St George’s.”
And Cllr Nigel Collor, lead cabinet member for The Open at Dover District Council (DDC), said: “Working with The R&A, KCC and the other local authorities in east Kent we were determined to improve public transport and sustainability for the 149th Open. Improving the station was one of the key learnings from 2011 when The Open was last held at Royal St George’s.
“Sandwich now has a railway station fit for the future, able to serve both the local community and act as the gateway to some of the finest links golf courses in the world.”
Sandwich has hosted The Open on more occasions than any other English venue.
This year will be the 15th time the championship has been played at Royal St George’s since 1894.
Including the neighbouring Prince’s and Royal Cinque Ports, Kent has played host to The Open on 18 occasions.