Published: 16:55, 18 March 2018
The town council is at loggerheads with a school that has signed up to a housing developer's plans to build a football hub on its land.
Homewood School has agreed to work with housing developer Wates as the firm stands poised to put in a planning application for 250 homes between Appledore Road and Woodchurch Road, in a scheme that would include building the hub.
But Tenterden Town Council (TTC) had its sights set on leasing the land for pitches to replace the one that is soon to be lost when the recreation ground is remodelled. If a deal had been clinched with Homewood it would have meant work could have begun almost immediately on a football centre for the town on the school-owned land.
The shock alliance means the town potentially could be left without a grass pitch if the new recreation ground is built before a decision is reached on Wates - and it leaves councillors at TTC scratching around for an alternative site.
Town clerk Phil Burgess said: "We are extremely disappointed to hear of this development.
"We have been working on an understanding with Homewood School that it would offer us a 25-year lease for football pitches on this site, one of which would replace the existing recreation ground pitch."
Only last week Essex-based landscape architects Ground Control unveiled plans for a remodelled recreation ground with the current pitch removed to accommodate a skate park and youth hub, among other features.
Mr Burgess went on: "It is essential that we have a top quality football pitch for the town. It is not part of the plans drafted so far for the re-ordering of the recreation ground, but we are determined to find a solution."
The Wates development on fields stretching between Appledore Road and Woodchurch Road is not supported by Tenterden Town Council.
Tenterden Schools Trust owns two fields, totalling around eight acres, one of which is a football pitch, land that it is now holding in reserve for Wates.
Emma Gruenbaum spokesman for Wates Developments said that the firm was pleased to be working with Homewood, which could now continue to develop its 3G pitch at the school that would eventually link in with the proposed Appledore Road hub.
She said: "We are delighted to have reached agreement with the Tenterden Schools Trust to include an eight-acre site at Appledore Road in Tenterden, owned by the Trust, as part of our proposal for residential development and extensive community facilities.
"The school will be able to proceed with upgrade plans to their existing on-site football pitch, improving facilities for the community now and into the future."
Wates have release an image of the proposed sports hub, together with initial drawings for the whole 60-acre site, which have already been shared with Ashford Borough Council as part of the pre-planning process.
Mark Seymour, finance director for Tenterden Schools Trust said: "Tenterden Schools Trust has for some time felt that the Appledore Road land is ideal to support the sports provision for the town and the agreement with Wates will help secure this positive outcome."
The Wates' scheme involves the creation of a country park, sports facilities, a pavilion and parking, alongside the 250 homes.