Construction to start on Folkestone’s indoor Urban Sports Park

The main contractor has been appointed to build Folkestone’s new Urban Sports Park, to be located close to the junction of Dover Road and Tontine Street.

Jenner Contractors Ltd, based at Park Farm in Folkestone, was awarded the contract after a competitive tender process. This followed the approval of revised plans by Folkestone and Hythe District Council, based on detailed design work by the project’s designers, Guy Hollaway Architects.

Groundworks and foundations were completed in early 2017, but projected costs for the building rose from an initial £7 million to well over double that figure, partly because of the innovative design of the project. Further work was carried out on the design and amended plans were submitted to the council’s planning department earlier this year. These incorporated the key features originally proposed, including multi-storey provision for skating, climbing, bouldering and boxing but removed a top floor that would have hosted a meeting and function room. This change was to help ensure that the construction costs, which are being met by funding from The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, could be contained more closely.

The Urban Sports Park will be managed by Shepway Sports Trust, a Folkestone-based independent charity established to encourage participation and excellence in sport. Shepway Sports Trust will use the new facility as a base from which to support local clubs, strengthening their connections with primary and secondary schools and encouraging people of all ages to adopt a more active lifestyle.

Further details about the interior layout and construction of the building have now been finalised. The skate floors will make use of timber and concrete surfaces, combining the need for durability and flexibility to modify and upgrade as skating trends evolve. The concrete bowls will offer unique features for a UK indoor park, whereas the timber will provide possibilities to update or enhance the space for specific events. The climbing centre will offer climbable surfaces of nearly 600 square metres, to include “top rope”, “lead climbing” and “bouldering”. The boxing gym, which will house Folkestone Amateur Boxing Club, will be in a prime location on the ground floor and will feature a competition size boxing ring.

Laurence Hickmott, Chief Executive of Shepway Sports Trust, said: “We are delighted to be moving forward with this fantastic new sports venue, which will be ground-breaking in terms of design and the facilities it will offer. Planning something as untried and as ambitious as this has brought considerable challenges, and it was important to take plenty of advice, including consultations with local people so that we could achieve what was needed. The project will deliver real benefits for local people and we think it will create new reasons for people to visit Folkestone.”

Martin Sandall, Managing Director at Jenner, said: “Jenner are delighted to have been selected as the construction partner to deliver this prestigious landmark building on behalf of the Shepway Sports Trust. This project continues the excellent relationship that Jenner has enjoyed with the local community in Folkestone since the company was founded in 1875. It will be an honour to work with such an innovative and forward-thinking team throughout the project.”

The construction period is estimated in the region of 18 months.