Norman Garon Trust vision
is to make Garon Park
multi-sport centre in the country
by Philip Tolhurst,
Trustee, Norman Garon Trust
When Garon Park was first conceived at the
meeting with the then Leader of Southend Borough Council we saw it as a
sports complex that would provide a number of first class facilities
particularly for young people.
Fifteen years on and with various
improvements over the years we have developed that vision and now see
Garon Park not simply as a regional centre of excellence but an
exemplary joint venture between private, public and sporting sectors to
produce a truly comprehensive multi-sport facility.
We already have one of the best indoor
tennis centres in the Country; which draws a lot of young people into
that sport. We already have indoor basketball, netball and similar
training facilities and an international standard athletics track.
Essex County Cricket Club
has now taken a Lease on the Cricket Ground at Garon Park and this year
depending upon timing of relevant consents, we hope to establish not
only first class outdoor nets but a first class electronic cricket
scoreboard together with workshop and storage facilities for the
ground-staff. Weather permitting we also hope to remodel the mounding
around the oval to provide a mezzanine level, which for the festival
will accommodate the marquees and similar, but for a Twenty20 match
could provide an additional raised platform for seating. Space will be
left for grandstands to be built both temporarily and more permanently
in the future.
The clubhouse will also have a makeover
this year and while doing that the club will also be looking to create a
separated area for the players.
Looking forward we have a visionary plan to
establish indoor centres of excellence both for cricket and football and
working with an organisation supported by leading ex-footballers we hope
to provide a sensational facility for them and will combine of the
indoor training facilities for use by both cricket and football as well,
as well as providing an indoor cricket school. We have recently made
planning applications for all these facilities.
Outside of the main sporting facilities we
are in negotiations with a hotel operator to create a 4* hotel on site
and this will necessitate the rebuilding of certain of the other
facilities that exist and the area to the right of the access road.
Southend Borough Council now has planning permission for a new 25-metre
pool with a world-class pool and diving facility and they are hoping to
complete the construction of that, alongside the tennis centre, in 2010.
golf course we are in discussion with the operators with a view to
carrying out a number of improvements, and with that we hope to include
some fairway watering.
The tree planting we undertook on the golf course is now well
established and will be increasingly visible and contributes to a
substantial improvement in the overall environment over the previous
uses of the land, not just in the trees and vegetation but also in the
wildlife and fauna, which has been created within the golf course area.
Finally, we are discussions
with the University of Essex, and together we will be discussing with
Southend Borough Council access to all of the facilities both here and
elsewhere for students at the University campus in Southend. This new
campus opened at the beginning of 2007 and the numbers of students will
increase substantially next September and in the following years
thereafter. Their use of all these facilities will ably demonstrate
that our vision is being achieved, and that, when all these works are
complete we have created the best sporting centre, not only regionally
but also possibly in the Country for all the leading sports – except
perhaps for sailing but then we do have the sea at Southend as well!