£950,000 – that is the amount we’ve spent on improvements to the clubhouse and pitch space over the last 13 years. Where has it all been spent you might well ask? – A fair question. Well, on a series of projects which started with the new car park extension opposite the Squash Club and continued with various upgrades to the clubhouse, which included the main toilets, a refurbishment of the shower block, conversion of the old gym into the Stokes Room, the refurbishment of the Main Hall, a new Bar and the creation of a new entrance, to include the Club Shop.
There has also been considerable expenditure on the pitches, with professional drainage & floodlights installed to pitches 3 and 4 behind the clubhouse. More recently we’ve also added floodlights to Pitch 1 in the hope that they will benefit us all during the winter months. Indeed today will see them in use for the first time.
Within the last few days we have completed work to provide a new significantly upgraded electricity supply to the clubhouse. This should provide sufficient capacity for current and future needs. It has proved to be a very complex and time consuming project, ably co-ordinated by John Allanson with assistance from Sid Sidey.
However, that is very much the past and the Trustees have for some time been working on two future projects which are much needed. The first and most important, involves the construction of additional changing rooms in a new extension to the rear of the clubhouse. Ultimately we hope to be able to produce eight changing rooms, five in the extension and three refurbished in the clubhouse, together with improved referee’s facilities, a larger kitchen and more storage.
The design of the new changing rooms incorporates the RFU’s exacting specification which means each room must be self-contained (so that Men’s & Ladies games can be played alongside each other) & capable of accommodating 22 players. One of their conditions is that there cannot be any plunge baths anywhere in the clubhouse – a touch of nostalgia for older readers!
Planning permission was granted on 18th August for this project, which involves the removal of all of the trees which currently occupy the proposed location of the new development. This will enable soil survey tests to be carried out and a foundation design to be prepared. Although we do not as yet have any firm costings for the project, it is unlikely to be less than £700,000 and ideally, providing we have the funding in place, we would like to commence construction at the end of the 2019/2020 season but it may be 20/21.
We are anticipating that a potential source of funding will arise from the housing developments that are currently being undertaken, either within or adjacent to the Stortford North developments close to Silver Leys. As part of the planning consent for these developments, the house builders have signed a Section 106 Agreement to provide funds for sport and leisure facilities in the Town, part of which is specifically earmarked for the Rugby Club. However these sums will only be paid after the occupation of a minimum number of houses, so this will by no means be immediate. We are however in regular contact with Councilors and Officers of East Herts Council to try and progress our application for a grant from this future funding source.
Indications have already been given by the Rugby Football Federation that provided the layout and specification of the new changing rooms meets their requirements, then a substantial interest free loan could be forthcoming. Peter Scarlett will be pursuing this & other avenues of potential grant funding.
We cannot however rely on others alone to finance this project and we will need to look to club members and sponsors to assist with this. Perry Oliver has agreed to lead the Appeal for funds for a project that is vital to the future of the Club, so you have been warned! It is likely to commence next year, linking up with our Centenary celebrations due to take place in 2020/21. We very much hope that when the time comes, all of those who have an interest in the Club will feel able to make a contribution to this Appeal in some shape or form. The important thing to remember with the project is that this will be very much a whole Club facility, used by members from all teams and age groups.
Apart from the building project, but complimentary to it, there is also the need to upgrade the remaining utilities and drainage. Whilst the new electricity supply is now in place, a similar exercise will be required to upgrade the gas, water and main drainage which will all add to the overall cost of the scheme.
The other project for which planning consent has been granted is the erection of two 100 seat stands to be located either side of half way on the far side of Pitch 1 to provide improved spectator facilities. We are hoping that a sponsor or sponsors will be prepared to assist with the funding of these as part of our appeal.
To complete the picture on the property and infrastructure front, the Trustees are in discussion with the Silver Leys Trustees to enable the club to take up a new 50 year lease of the trust land we currently occupy. This is an important development in securing the long term future of the club at Silver Leys.
The club has also obtained agreement from the Stortford North consortium to use a grassed area on the other side of Dane O’Coys for Mini rugby purposes and Tubby is now working hard to bring the surface up to a playing standard.
The Club has also been given permission by the College to use a pavilion and toilet facilities, as well as their pitch space, on a Sunday morning. This helps to cement a relationship with the school for which the Club is extremely grateful.
Finally it is no secret that we have a long term aspiration to incorporate the pitch space currently used by the Swifts Football club into our playing area. This would enable the Minis to move back from the College. However this is dependent on the Swifts finding alternative pitch space and clubhouse facilities. These may be provided in the Hoggetts Wood area of the new Stortford North development. However this is not imminent and could only take place in the latter stages of the project & sadly we have no real control over this.
So significant challenges lie ahead!
Richard Norden, Chairman BSRFC Board of Directors/Trustees