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Plans revealed to create new home for Larkfield & New Hythe Football Club

Relocation vital to secure recently promoted club’s future, says Chairman John Michel.
 
Plans for a new community sports hub at a former golf course at Birling, Kent have been revealed that would provide Larkfield & New Hythe Football Club with a new, purpose-built home, and deliver new leisure facilities to the area including a driving range and Padel tennis courts.
 
Emerging plans for Oast Park Sports Hub seek to relocate the club from its existing football ground in Larkfield. A new 4,500 sq ft clubhouse and two floodlit 3G pitches for year-round matches and training would be created just 1.2km from the club’s current location. A floor plan of the new accessible clubhouse shows 250-capacity seat stands, two sets of home and away changing rooms and a function room.
 
If plans go ahead for the relocation of the club, 50 new affordable homes would be created on the current site of Larkfield & New Hythe Football Club on New Hythe Lane. The scheme of two-storey homes will incorporate a new attractive open landscaped space fronting the road adjacent to Larkfield Playing Fields. Plans for Oast Park Sports Hub feature a number of other sports and leisure facilities, including:
  • A premium two-storey golf driving range, with a bar / restaurant, bringing an exceptional leisure offer, as well as jobs, to the area.
  • Padel tennis courts, bringing the fast-growing popular game, a mix of tennis and squash, to this area of Kent.
  • New dedicated access to Oast Park off Castle Way (A228).
  • Adequate on-site car parking for visitors and members.
  • A children’s play area.
John Michel, Chairman of Larkfield & New Hythe Football Club, which in May won promotion to the SCEFL Premier Division, said: “Put simply, we need to relocate the club to survive.
 
“In previous years we have struggled to attract the major investment needed to maintain and improve our facilities. Our grass playing surfaces are not fit for purpose – 18 matches have been cancelled this season because of waterlogged pitches. We can’t go on like this.
 
“We’re excited about making Oast Park the home of the Larks. Our recent promotion reinforces the need for us to invest in club facilities and the opportunity to create a new club fit for the current league and our future.
 
“Moving to a new purpose-built facility will be transformational for our teams, supporters and the wider community. At the moment we are relying on facilities at other clubs and we don’t take priority. The artificial pitches alone are going to be game changing, allowing us to play and train in all weathers. We’ll be able to make those facilities available to other teams, local schools and community groups too.
 
“We’ve shown the early plans to our team managers so they can have their say and be part of securing the future of the club.”
 
An overview of the new Oast Park sports grounds. Photo credit: Hollaway.

​Oast Park Sports Hub
Oast Park Sports Hub is being planned for the disused site of Oast Park Golf Course, which closed in 2017, and plans are being put forward by developer Obee Estates ahead of the submission of a formal planning application later this year.

In addition to the Sports Hub, the vision for the wider Oast Park site is for a mixed-use scheme comprising homes and leisure. The emerging site masterplan includes up to 100 homes adjacent to the sports hub, 10 of which would be self-build plots.  Plans for this residential area to enable the development are in the early stages and will form a separate future outline planning application.

Thomas Obee from Obee Estates said: “This is an exciting project that seeks to deliver exceptional facilities for a community football club, as well as bringing innovative new leisure facilities to the area for everyone to benefit from and create jobs both during construction and in the longer term. It will also unlock land in Larkfield for the provision of much needed affordable homes in an area of need.

“We’re in the early planning stages of the project which involves meeting with local councillors and the community ahead of a formal planning application for Oast Park Sports Hub later this year.” 

Public consultation opportunity
Public consultation events will take place at Eden Estates Stadium in Larkfield, providing an opportunity for people to find out more and have their say. 

  • ​Dates: Thursday 27 June 2024 3pm – 7pm / Saturday 29 June 2024 10am – 1pm
  • Venue: Larkfield and New Hythe Football Club, Eden Estates Stadium, New Hythe Lane, Larkfield, Kent, ME20 6PU

Those unable to attend the event will have the opportunity to leave feedback via an online survey. 

Find out more about the project visit obeeholdings.co.uk/projects/oast-park

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