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How the proposed football ground at Highland Court would look

City’s football club “will collapse” if new ground dream is rejected

Canterbury City FC and Canterbury Rugby Club will learn next week whether their dream of moving to a new complex at Bridge will realised.

Their application for new ground plus other facilities next to St Lawrence Cricket Club at Highland Court is facing refusal when it goes before council planners.

City FC chairman Tim Clark has warned that the club faces “collapse” if the plan is not approved.

The proposal also includes 175 three- and four-bedroom homes, a business park, innovation centre, food and drink area, leisure hub and offices.

It comes before Canterbury City Council’s planning committee, which has been warned that such a large development will negatively affect the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in which it would sit.

Canterbury City FC chairman Tim Clark

The scheme devised by developer Quinn Estates and its partner HICO Group has provoked strident opposition in nearby villages such as Bridge, Bishopsbourne and Kingston.

And city council planning officers are advising planning committee members to reject it.

A report by planning officer Steve Musk going before members states: “The sports facilities proposed in this application could be considered to have positive benefits for the district.

“However, this element only forms part of the overall planning considerations that need to be taken into account in deciding this against planning policy.

“The application also includes significant residential and commercial development, which would cause significant harm to both the AONB and heritage assets.”

The report added that there were not enough grounds to justify exceptional circumstances to permit large scale development in the AONB.

Canterbury City FC lost its Kingsmead Stadium in 1999 when it was redeveloped as housing and then folded in 2001 before reforming in 2007.

Mr Clark fears that failure to approve the scheme will again spell the club’s demise.

He said: “I intend to address the planning committee, look them straight in the eyes and tell them it’s time for justice and a yes vote. We have no Plan B and a no will see the club collapse for the second time in 20 years. It’s as stark a choice as that.

“We have spent the last two years working on our community football hub plans and the city council have a once in a lifetime opportunity to vote for a sporting legacy that will serve generations to come.”

The planning committee meeting takes place in the Guildhall at 6.30pm on Tuesday, February 5.

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5 responses to “City’s football club “will collapse” if new ground dream is rejected”

  1. Avatar Andy Cameron says:

    Maybe Mr Clark would like to come and look at the hundreds of villagers in the area who would be impacted by this monstrous development….there are far better sites that should be considered

  2. Avatar JSH says:

    I’d say that the the city council have a once in a lifetime opportunity to vote to save an AONB as a legacy that will serve generations to come! Many people already use the are for ‘recreation’ by walking, cycling and horse riding and will be pushed out by these plans!

  3. Avatar John Copsey says:

    Whilst I am very keen and supportive of sport, this Quinn plan is just in the wrong place. Sadly Canterbury Football club is so much smaller than Rugby club and has a lack of audience. So placing so far from the city is unlikely to grow even with Quinn’s nice pictures. Also Rugby club, again you’ll move into the AONB getting unhappy peolpe and no longer being close to Langton Boys and your Mertton Lane current site become a Quinn houseing site

  4. Avatar Dave Howe says:

    The article from the Football Club is a last ditch attempt to sway Councillors and was to be expected. The Rugby Club have written a similar type of letter to the Councillors. All I would say to the Councillors in response is: just do your job. The officers give 12 grounds for refusal. The demands of a very poorly supported football club simply cannot be allowed to ride roughshod over the NPPF and the Canterbury Local Plan. The Football Club have seen that their plans will not come to fruition once again and are trying a desperate last minute salvage operation. It surely won’t work.

  5. Avatar JJ says:

    There aren’t really any other suitable areas (at least that have been brought to attention with supportive evidence) and the local council has proven itself shortsighted for decades when it comes to sports and large scale public hosting infrastructure. There is a reason Canterbury gets far less large musical or sporting acts visiting than other comparable cities, poor planning and lack of vision/ambition.

    Others here state the FC is poorly supported , perhaps so …. but that is largely in part to past council officers kicking them out of their city of birth, if they had maintained them and supported them (which other city councils do when it comes to local teams) that would not be the case.

    If the football club was given a home and properly supported not only would it provide a new place for young people to engage (some that Canterbury has significantly and consistency cut back on over the years) but it could provide residencies a great place to watch sporting events. Other cities do exactly that and public support grows along with community engagement.

    Residents were clearly heard which is is why plans were reduced but it feels significantly like this is more about protecting their own interests and smacks of out of touch people who simply do not care or consider the wider city and its residents. Although to be fair nobody wants a large scale project on their doorstep at first but as responsible citizens you would hope those residents would consider the wider city and its people.

    Although I happen to agree with this being considered in a review of the wider plan and the AONB being protected more (perhaps there would be a way to integrate the AONB and provide more protection for it?) however given that the current local plan effectively provides developers free roam to build residential houses more or less where they please I find it difficult that all of a sudden a councillor decides to throw an objection to useful infrastructure but maintains beautiful silence to other areas – It feels almost as though there is a class divide due to the wealth associated in different locations, two rules come to mind for that particular councillor – If a house is built four roads away from me I dont care.

    All of that aside perhaps residents (in the form of area committees) of all areas in the city should come together , along with the council and actually put an ounce of thought into the future of important city infrastructure especially larger sporting/events venues. . . Instead of building frankly poorly planned car parks in already congested locations. – A fit for purpose ring road and a park & ride scheme not situated in the middle of the city would be a basic first step.

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