Staplehurst Cricket & Tennis Club

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Building our Future

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The Club’s 2016-20 Development Plan - a whole series of objectives across all our activities - is our most ambitious to date. But as time goes on, it is clear we need to be even more ambitious.

The Plan is focused on delivering the strategic priorities we believe are necessary to fulfil our historic mission - to facilitate and promote the playing of tennis and cricket across the community - well into the future. Much is dependent on significant investment in facilities to bring them up to a standard that will ensure we can attract, recruit and retain members from every section of the community.

While the Club has been successful in recent years and now generates a reasonable annual surplus to invest in facilities, it is not enough to either make up for past under-investment or to significantly improve on what we have. That is why we took the decision to pursue the sale of unused land on the edge of our ground with planning permission for a small housing development. Having obtained planning permission and sold the land for in excess of £300,000, we are now able to look beyond catching up on the past. We can actively plan for Building our Future. And we can be totally realistic. The fact is, we need to generate additional net income of at least £20,000 a year within 3 to 5 years, and further net income each year beyond that, just to ensure that once we have the facilities we want, we can continue to maintain and improve them.

The key to this is not just meeting the needs and expectations of the more than 450 members we already have. It is being able to reach out to the community in which we are based and bring in more people, through more activity, year-on-year. Between 5,000 and 7,000 people already use the Club every year whether as players, spectators, attendees at events or occasional visitors. We need to ensure we are better meeting their needs.

We are a cricket and tennis club. That is and remains our core purpose. Recent changes to the legal structure of the Club reinforce the commitment to our mission of facilitating and promoting the playing of cricket and tennis. Everything else we do is in support of that mission. But we can now develop the range of sporting activities we run – reaching out and engaging all sections of our community - to support the improved social amenity that will underpin both our sporting mission and long-term sustainability.

An additional net income of £20,000 per year is a stretching initial target given that our current net income is around £35,000 a year. But we believe we can achieve this by opening up our clubhouse to more seven day-a-week activity. We have already grown our bar turnover by over 100% and bar net income by 400% in the last 10 years. Further turnover and net income growth is possible on the back of more social activity generated by increasing sports participation and engagement.

While we have a substantial tennis playing membership, our tennis facilities are underused. We know that our tennis courts are in a poor condition and well beyond the date they should have been completely refurbished. We also believe there is a significant local market for good quality tennis facilities. LTA data supports this and other local tennis facilities are oversubscribed. Refurbishing the existing courts and installing new floodlit courts will open up this market. On the basis of financial projections – with relatively modest increases in membership, pay-to-play access and coaching provision – we would expect to generate additional income beyond that needed to repay the original investment and meet regular maintenance costs over the long-term.

But tennis is not the only increased sporting participation we foresee. While it is difficult contemplate substantial grow adult cricket in the short-term, without an additional pitch, we can significantly extend and develop our junior cricket programme. And with around 400 members of Staplehurst Running Club, which uses our ground during the week, we obviously need to explore how we can better serve this community as well as support continued growth of the annual Mid-Kent 5 Mile race.

We already have one of the largest junior cricket programmes in Kent. But we recognise more can be done and we are intent on delivering quality provision, targeted specifically at different capabilities, across all age groups. And we know we have to attract and retain more girls, building on the launch of CricketForGirls with ex-England international, Lydia Greenway, last year. All this means more schools outreach and developing effective partnerships with local primary schools other than Staplehurst. So all-weather and fully enclosed net facilities feature strongly in our thinking.

Our ambitions are also being fuelled by the potential for attracting further funding from a number of sources. We are currently in discussions with the sports’ governing bodies, the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). We are also in a position to apply for funding from Sport England. This is because we have demonstrated we are a community club and seeking to invest in community facilities. We believe we can attract a further £200,000 over and above the £300,000 the Club has from its own sources.

£500,000 may sound a lot but it probably isn’t enough to fund the scale of ambition we need. We have to continuously search for new funding sources. But we also need to be smart with what we have. We MUST ensure any investment drives the additional income generation we need for future investment plans. But we must also ensure we make the most of any investment now. To do that, we need to be certain we deliver appropriately for the whole community. That’s why we are engaging as widely as possible in the consultation planned throughout September.