John Morgan, chair of Hastings & St Leonards Priory Cricket Club, explains 

The Priory cricket club and South Saxons hockey club are two of the town’s leading sports institutions. We each see the projected move from Horntye Park to Claremont School as essential for our respective long term security and indeed survival.

Both clubs have an enviable reputation for engaging with youngsters across the town and developing players with the skills for lifelong enjoyment of sport and its associated benefits. Hastings & St Leonards Priory currently has over 130 junior members and 60 adult members; South Saxons have 80 junior members and 90 adult members. The cricket club over the years has produced a number of professional county cricketers and even an England World Cup winner! But the continued provision of high quality sport for both adults and juniors of the area is dependent on having a future-proof high quality base. 

CREDIT: Reg Wood Events Photography

The Trust that owns Horntye is financially challenged, with large liabilities. This stretched financial position could well lead to the closure of the sports complex. To add to this, there is a necessity to replace the existing 21-year-old Astroturf pitch at an estimated minimum cost of £600,000k, plus a need to improve the cricket wicket square and net facilities, which are also over 20 years old. The funds to undertake these investments are just not available as things stand. Without a move financed by the sale of the ground for housing, both the cricket and hockey clubs will be left in very precarious positions without essential home facilities.

The revenue generated from the sale of Horntye will be reinvested in improved sporting facilities at Claremont. These include a brand new cricket ground, five bay cricket nets, a multi-purpose floodlit artificial pitch, a floodlit multi-use games area, and improvements to two existing cricket grounds and facilities. These are new and much needed improvements to our current sporting facilities – an exciting opportunity.

The application will also retain and secure the future of the Horntye sports hall & complex building which will provide continued sporting opportunities for numerous existing clubs and groups.

Whilst we recognise that the proposed move to Claremont is beyond the Borough boundary, it is as close to many parts of the town as Horntye. Both clubs are looking at how they might address any transport issues for members, new players and spectators, should transport prove a barrier to engagement.

And whilst we are obviously disappointed at the prospect of leaving Horntye, home of the cricket club for the last 27 years, we understand that this is our best and in reality only viable option.

The cricket club has agreed with Claremont School for the use of their existing cricket pitch for the 1st XI & 2nd XI in the Sussex Cricket League for the 2022 season.  We are grateful to Crowhurst Park Cricket Club and its Chair Justin Harley for their support in sharing facilities there.

The Hastings & Rother Sports Trust will meanwhile be looking to create a community fund, with the possibility of helping local sports clubs & organisations. This could be an additional benefit and opportunity for all recreational clubs in the local Hastings area and a real benefit that can result from the proposed plans.

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