IT HAS taken more than a decade or discussion, speculation and negotiation but the plans for a new ground are now a reality.
If they come to fruition, it will mean the end of years of uncertainty over the club’s future and create a purpose-built ground, with three county standard pitches and a pavilion with modern facilities suitable for a thriving club in the 21st century.
It will also mean the end of having to send one team a week to play at a satellite ground in Aston and provide enough space to enable practice sessions for all juniors to be held on a single morning.
The new ground will have separate changing facilities for girls and women, as well as being suitable for the disabled.
Unveiling the plans at the clubhouse this weekend, chairman Chris Johnson told members: ‘Although this move has been somewhat forced upon us, this is a a truly exciting opportunity and this project offers us a chance to cement our position as one of the foremost clubs in the region.’
The proposed new ground is just a few hundred yards away at what is known as Jubilee Park off Park Lane. The site, opposite the Lytton Arms, is rough grassland and used occasionally for pony riding events.
The entrance will be off Park Lane and there will be 60 parking spaces, more than we have at present and with enough space on the site to prevent cars having to park on the roads. It will be a lot safer to get to than driving through the narrow, twisty Old Knebworth Lane.
A V-shaped, low-level pavilion is proposed at the back of the site, largely tucked away from public view. It will have six changing rooms, enough to cater for a full Saturday league programme of matches at the one venue.
The pitches themselves will be created by levelling the site, moving some 3,000 tonnes of earth around the site. They will all be roughly on the same level although small banks will be created to give a slight stepped effect.
Creating the playing fields is the first stage and it will take two to three years for the ground to settle and the wickets to be ready for play. Building the pavilion would be part of the final phase of the scheme.
Once the application is approved, the estate owners are likely to allow us five years to complete the move.
If agreed, the club will need to raise about £1million to pay for the work. Until planning permission is granted it is impossible to get firm commitments from the funding organisations, such as the ECB, but initial responses have been supportive.
Graham Fisher, who has been heavily involved in the project since it was first mooted back in 2000, said: ‘It’s been a long, rocky road but there is now light at the end of the tunnel. It’s an exceptional plan which will create superb, modern facilities and secure the future of this wonderful club.’