As our existing tenancy at the Recreation Ground Lodge comes to an end I'm writing to provide you with an update on the upcoming changes to the Clubhouse and the ongoing negotiations with the Council over the terms for its use. Hopefully this will serve to answer many of the questions about the future of the Club and the Clubhouse which are circling among members and those in the local community.
Swale Borough Council have now started to implement their Recreation Ground redevelopment project, which includes the Recreation Ground Lodge, home to Faversham Rugby Club since 1992. The most notable change for the Club will be to the Clubhouse itself which is due to undergo a significant restructure. The designs for the Clubhouse have not been finalised by the Council as yet, but we do know that the intended end result is a much reduced area for the Club to use. The front half of the existing Clubhouse is to become a Council-contracted convenience kiosk and this space will no longer be usable for the Club. This will certainly prove challenging on busy game days, particularly as we already exceed capacity before the Clubhouse reduction takes place.
We now know from the Council that building work will start when the 2018-19 rugby season concludes in April and the work to the Lodge is scheduled to run until September 2019. During this time the Club will not be usable and will be unable to host the usual charity fundraisers and social events which the local community is accustomed to attending over the summer.
We also know that following the redevelopment the existing parking and storage will be removed. We are waiting to hear a workable solution from the Council for match day parking for players and supporters. Their current proposal that we use the already over capacity parking on Park Road or the industrial estate on Jubilee Way has many practical problems and is unlikely to be favourable with local residents and businesses. The future storage location for training and match day equipment also remains to be agreed but we expect to hear a solution to this before the equipment is due to be moved out for building work in April.
We are also in the process of negotiating the terms for our stay in our Clubhouse following the works. Unfortunately assurances from Councillor David Simmons that the Club would not be worse off have proved to have been empty platitudes and the reality is quite different. Notably, despite reducing the size of the Clubhouse, the Council are also seeking an increase in rent from the Club.
The full financial impact of this increased rent/reduced club-area double-hit remains to be seen but it is likely to test the Club's finances and potentially its existence. As Faversham RUFC is entirely run by volunteers it will prove difficult to make savings but changes will likely be necessary, depending of the Council's financial demands. Every effort possible will be made to ensure the impact on the Club's rugby playing capability is kept to a minimum. We may have to ask for more from already overstretched members in order to keep the Club running and ensure Faversham is not deprived of a vital community sporting service. We are determined to keep Faversham Rugby Club at the Recreation Ground in the heart of Faversham to preserve the community spirit of the Club and to help the Recreation Ground serve its original purpose – to provide recreation facility for the community. We hope that the Council keeps it financially viable to do so.
We understand these issues may be concerning to members and the local community but please do get in contact with us or your local Swale Borough Councillor if you have questions regarding these changes.
Faversham Rugby Union Football Club
01 Nov 2019
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