A game-changing community sports project for the north Kent coast
The brief for this project was to redevelop the redundant 19th-century golf club site at Herne Bay on Kent’s north coast, with the aim of providing a mixed-use venue with state-of-the-art sports facilities at its heart.
Sport had been played on the site since the original Herne Bay Golf Club opened there in 1895, and sport was designed to play a significant ongoing role at the centre of the new project.
Based in Canterbury, Quinn Estates have been involved in a number of projects where their focus has been to ‘work alongside local residents, groups and stakeholders to ensure a legacy of community betterment’.
The company obtained planning permission for a mixed-use development on the site in September 2015, with the project envisaged to provide more than 500 homes, plus what was seen locally as a ‘much needed state-of-the-art sports facility to provide a home for four local amateur clubs – youth football, cricket, tennis and hockey – to continue to develop and enhance their clubs’. Their home would be a two-storey sports pavilion, timber-clad to stay in keeping with the location, with a function room and licensed bar which could also be hired for use by members of the local community.
Situated on the junction of the A299 and A2990, the site’s proximity to the railway station, town centre and sea front places it right at the heart of the community. And the community element was to be central to the development.
Planning a strong and vibrant community
In the words of architects Clague, the intention was that: ‘a mixed-use development scheme such as this would allow for the comprehensive planning of a strong and vibrant community, incorporating leisure and recreational opportunities, whilst delivering local jobs and services to create a mixed and balanced neighbourhood…A mix of land uses also serves to make a positive contribution to the quality of the local environment, providing a range of social experiences.’
Harwood were invited to provide building control services for the £10 million project, with Senior Project Manager Vic Datlen brought in as site inspector. Harwood were a constant presence during the construction process, working closely with the architects, client and building contractor to ensure smooth running of the project and strict compliance with all aspects of building regulations. Vic comments: “We were delighted to be working alongside an excellent design team and contractor focused on quality to provide what is an excellent addition to this community.”
The building work was completed in 2020, and the hub is now home to four local clubs: Herne Bay Lawn Tennis Club, Herne Bay Youth Football Club, Herne Bay Cricket Club and Herne Bay Hockey Club, who each paid 25p for their share of the 125-year lease. ‘The clubs paid me £1 for the leases between the four of them…In another 125 years, they’ll only have to pay another pound,’ Mark Quinn told Kent Online.
The financial and logistical advantages of four amateur clubs operating from a single focal point is clear, and facilities today include two full-size hockey pitches, a 4G football pitch and two grass mini pitches, plus a cricket ground and half a dozen tennis courts.
As regards the building itself, the two-storey structure boasts roof terraces at first-floor level which overlook the football and hockey pitches, making it the perfect place to watch local sport and support the local teams based at the hub. The licensed bar and function room – a facility which employs local staff and is available for hire for parties, receptions and meetings – is being used more and more by local residents as Covid restrictions begin to lift.
‘Sport plays a vital role in our local community and all monies raised at the bar will be put back into local sport for current and future generations,’ said Clive Cripps, president of the hockey club, at the opening of the venue in July 2021.
An award-winning project
The Herne Bay Sports Hub project was recognised at 2020’s Property Awards, when Quinn Estates and their CEO Mark Quinn were awarded the prestigious Property Week/Irvine Sellar Award.
In his speech thanking the judging panel, Mark Quinn said: ‘I believe we won this award not because of how commercially successful this scheme has been, but because of what we have given back and what we have done for the communities within which we build.’
The completion of Herne Bay Sports Hub also brought further success for Quinn last year at the 2021 Housebuilder Awards, where they won the Best Community Initiative Award for their involvement in the project.
A historical note
Back in 1896 Herne Bay Golf Club’s inaugural competition was won by F Bawcomb, with the medal presented by Sir Albert Altman, one of the movers and shakers behind the construction of London’s Tower Bridge. It’s fitting that this new project is instrumental in building significant bridges within the local community of Herne Bay.
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