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Design & Development

Wasps targeting move to new stadium in Kent

Featured image credit: Wasps

Fallen English rugby union giant Wasps has detailed plans to move to a new stadium in the county of Kent as part of reformation efforts for the club.

Wasps was placed into administration on October 17 last year, with its parent company Wasps Holdings Limited ceasing trading and the club being ejected from the top-tier Premiership. A total of 167 employees were made redundant, including playing squads and coaching staff at the rugby club and the Wasps netball team.

The club has now said it is “actively engaged” with Sevenoaks District Council to identify a suitable location for a new stadium and ensure that the development meets both the needs of the club and the broader community.

As the development progresses through its planning stages, Wasps said it will be actively exploring temporary facilities to underpin its operations in Kent. The club added it has also agreed an option of utilising Worcester Warriors’ Sixways ground for both training and playing purposes, “without in anyway replacing Worcester Warriors RFC and indeed committed to assisting their return to competitive rugby”.

The Warriors were also placed into administration and suspended from playing in September 2022, and like fellow Premiership club London Irish, was also ejected from the Premiership amid English club rugby’s financial crisis.

Wasps owner Chris Holland is now also the majority shareholder of Worcester, it was reported last month, after his Loxwood Holdings firm acquired the stake of former owners Atlas.

A Wasps spokesperson said: “The journey of Wasps has been one of passion, resilience, and commitment to the game. Our determination to secure a new, sustainable future for the club has never been stronger. By working with Sevenoaks District Council, we hope to build a long-lasting legacy that acknowledges our storied past and charts an ambitious future.”

Sevenoaks Council said Wasps has put forward an early proposal for a new multi-use stadium, with a capacity of between 24,000 and 28,000 seats, along with a training ground and hotel as part of its Local Plan ‘Call for sites’.

The Local Plan sets out what could be built and where in the next 15 years and the ‘Call for sites’ identifies potential development sites that could be included in it. The location of the proposed stadium, training ground and hotel is on the outskirts of the town of Swanley.

A Council statement read: “As a top tier club, with an international profile, we believe this is a once in a generation opportunity. Wasps would bring unparalleled economic, sports development, health, education, skills and cultural benefits to the district and we are keen to explore how that could be achieved.

“However, the public and partners will all need to have their say on Wasps’ proposals before it could be considered for inclusion in the new Local Plan. Wasps’ proposals would also require planning permission, which again would give the public an opportunity to have their say and actively engage in the process.”

The RFU is yet to determine at what level of the domestic game Wasps would be permitted to return to. Wasps’ debts at the time of the club’s administration reportedly totalled £95m (€109.1m/$116.3m).

The club relocated from its traditional home in London to Wycombe, north of the UK capital, in 2002, before moving to Coventry in 2014. Frasers Group, a British retail company owned by Mike Ashley, secured ownership of Coventry Building Society Arena, home of Championship football club Coventry City and former home of Wasps, in November last year.

In April, it was reported that Wasps was working on plans to build a new 24,000-capacity venue called the Wasps Nest Stadium near the M40 motorway, which links London and Birmingham.