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Wasps nest plans for Sevenoaks district

Former Premiership side Wasps are aiming to move to the Sevenoaks District and build a new stadium close to Swanley and the M25.

The club went into administration a year ago and were removed from the Premiership as a result, however the club is actively engaged with Sevenoaks District Council to identify a suitable location and ensure that the development meets both the needs of the club and the broader community.

A statement by the club said: “Building on the rich 156-year history of Wasps, this move signifies a new chapter in the club’s journey, reaffirming its commitment to professional rugby.”

In a statement on October 17th the club discussed its strategic journey since October 2022. Having faced significant challenges with regulation and funding, the club has persisted with its determination to revive Wasps at the highest possible level.

“As the development progresses through its planning stages, Wasps will be actively exploring temporary facilities to underpin its operations in Kent.”

Whilst determined to establish a base in the southeast of England, the club has also agreed an option of utilising Worcester Warriors’ Sixways ground for both training and playing purposes.

A Wasps spokesperson said: “The journey of Wasps has been one of passion, resilience, and commitment to the game. Our determination to secure a new, sustainable future for the club has never been stronger. By working with Sevenoaks District Council, we hope to build a long-lasting legacy that acknowledges our storied past and charts an ambitious future.”

Sevenoaks District Council commented on the move, saying: “Wasps Rugby Football Club has told us it is considering locating to the Sevenoaks District with a new multi-use stadium, training facilities and a hotel at Pedham Place on the outskirts of Swanley.
“Wasps has put its proposal forward as part of our ‘Call for sites’, which identifies potential development sites that could be included in our new Local Plan.

“The public will have an opportunity to consider Wasps’ proposal, and all the other ‘call for sites’ proposals, when we next consult on the Local Plan from November 23rd 2023 to January 11th 2024.

“As a top tier Club, with an international profile, we firmly believe this is a once in a generation opportunity. Wasps would bring unparalleled economic, sports development, health, education, skills and cultural benefits to the District and we are keen to explore how that could be achieved. However, the public and partners will need to have their say on Wasp’ proposals before it could be considered for inclusion in the new Local Plan.

“Further down the line, Wasps’ proposals would require planning permission, which again would give the public an opportunity to have their say and actively engage in the process.”

…but what does it mean for existing clubs
Whilst the news of Wasps Rugby Football Club’s proposed move to Kent maybe seen by some as a fantastic opportunity for West Kent, and we see the positives of such a proposal, several questions that will need to be asked include the fate of local clubs already within the Sevenoaks district?

Sevenoaks Rugby Clubs’ Director of Rugby & Head Coach Adam Bowman phrased it perfectly when he commented on social media saying: “This has the potential to be hugely positive for the local rugby community in the South East! I look forward to seeing how it progresses!”

We couldn’t agree more, and we hope that the local councils, and of course the public, will see this as an extremely positive step for the area.

Sevenoaks & Swanley MP Laura Trott was more pragmatic about the recent developments, adding: “The news is potentially very exciting. I have always been clear that local support is vital for any new development in our community, and I will therefore be looking closely at the details to ensure fans, local residents and local business will benefit, as well as requesting meetings soon with both Sevenoaks District Council and Wasps Rugby Club”.

The deal is a long way from being a done though, with planning issues including Green Belt land, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and of course the traffic implications with the M25 and nearby Brands Hatch.

Add to this the land on which the proposed stadium would be built. It is currently unclear why this site has been chosen, and if indeed it is suitable for such a large building. We will watch this space closely and keep you updated on developments when they occur.

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