A RUGBY club is launching an ambitious £1.5m bid in the hope of becoming the best venue on the south coast.
Officials at Havant Rugby Club are determined to bring the club into the 21st century and make it a community hub with world-class facilities.
Our aim for the future is to create a rugby club with the best facilities and the best pitches. We want to be the best club on the south coastNigel Campkin
The club occupies a huge site off Hooks Lane and it was feared some of land could be given over to housing.
But a new 25-year lease has been renegotiated with Havant Borough Council, which owns the land.
Plans include a complete modernisation of the 1970s clubhouse, new changing rooms, a new balcony, a coffee shop, and a larger events room.
President Nigel Campkin said: ‘This piece of land has been taken off the development schedule.
‘We have spent the last couple of years trying to get together a strategic vision. Our aim for the future is to create a rugby club with the best facilities and the best pitches. We want to be the best club on the south coast.’
The club was criticised over plans to get rid of the two squash courts in the clubhouse. But officials say squash membership has dwindled so much that it is no longer helping the club financially.
The plan next year is to renovate that part of the building and let it to a nursery – providing a solid income.
Grants and fundraising will help to pay for the work that needs doing.
In the long term, the club hopes to have an all-weather pitch, allowing rugby to be played regardless of flooding or frozen ground.
And the old army building next door to the clubhouse could be transformed into a community gym and physiotherapy centre.
Officials are negotiating with the council about taking over responsibility for the maintenance of the pitches.
Secretary Alan Newton said: ‘We want to grow and stay here and build the best club we possibly can.’
Julie Milford, who is in charge of minis and junior rugby, said: ‘It’s also about membership – we want more people to join us, as players, as supporters.’