The start of construction work on Sporting Club Thamesmead, the multi-million pound project that will bring first class outdoor sporting facilities to Thamesmead, was marked by a ground-breaking ceremony on Tuesday 5 May on the site at Thamesmead Town Football Club.
More than 70 people attend the event including senior councillors and officers from Bexley Council who have been massive supporters of the project as well as local MP John Austin and representatives from other partners including the Homes and Communities Agency, The Football Association, The London County FA, Charlton Athletic, Tilfen Land, Gallions Housing Association, young footballers from TTFC and the club mascot Tommy the Toad.
Guest of honour at the event was Lord Pendry, President of the Football Foundation, who was there to hand over a £1 million cheque towards the development saying that “Everybody connected with this exciting project should be congratulated.”
Sporting Club Thamesmead, which is being developed by Trust Thamesmead and its partners, will provide a range of sporting activities, social and community facilities, as well as improving the enjoyment of being involved with Thamesmead Town Football Club - whether simply watching the games, playing or coaching.
During a stirring presentation Thamesmead Town FC's Manager Keith McMahon explained how far the club has come from near bankruptcy to being on a sound footing today by investing in the youth of Thamesmead, a fact emphasised by there being nine players in the first team squad aged 18 or under. "This facility will enable the club and the community to develop and become stronger," stated McMahon.
The new £4.2 million facility, which is being built by Haymills Construction, will provide an iconic community sports pavilion with changing facilities, indoor activity rooms and social facilities available to all residents of Thamesmead.
The Club building and the layout of the outdoor facilities have been designed to reinforce the open nature of the site from a visitors' perspective and minimise the impact of the building on the land with the design philosophy being that where possible the building should ‘touch this earth lightly', creating minimal impact and allowing the building to be appreciated as part of and not simply placed on the land.
Vic Grimes, Trust Thamesmead's Chair, commented: "I'm very pleased that we now have all the funding in place and work is to start on a project which will provide a step change in sports provision in Thamesmead.
“None of this would've been possible without the solid support we have received from Bexley Council's Members and Officers during the past four years.
“This coupled with the fantastic response from the Football Foundation, the Homes and Communities Agency and our other funders means that Thamesmead will have at last have the quality facility it has been sorely lacking for so long.”
In addition to the funding from the Football Foundation, Trust Thamesmead's Board has allocated £2.36 million from its limited capital with additional funding coming from the Homes and Communities Agency (£525,000), the London Marathon Trust (£150,000); FIFA (£55,000); UEFA (£74,000) and the Rank Foundation (£5,000).
It is expected that Sporting Club Thamesmead will open for business in July 2010.