Royal Chester Rowing Club is forging ahead with plans for a £1.3m Community Water Sports Centre.
The club, which is currently celebrating 175 years on the Dee, has seen its membership swell to almost 300, partly because of the success of the GB Olympic rowing squad.
But the current boathouse is ‘seriously overcrowded’ with insufficient space for boat storage and learning programmes for adults and especially juniors.
The Royals have secured an option for its new base on Dee Valley Water land in Huntington, just upstream of the Red House pub opposite the Meadows, and a possible alternative site at an undisclosed location.
Financing the 12,000sq ft water sports centre could be achieved by selling the current base and the club hopes to secure a grant from the next round of Sport England funding. A planning application is unlikely to be submitted before January of next year.
Last week plans for the Sir Steve Redgrave Sports Institute were rejected as part of the controversial student village application, but the Royals would love to work with him at their new base.
The centre will address the needs of the growing numbers who want to take up or develop rowing, canoeing, dragon-boating and other water sports.
Royal Chester already has a junior section of more than 100 and has extensive links and active programmes with local schools.
Michal Palamarczuk, captain of Royal Chester, said: “Nevertheless the need for this centre is urgent particularly for junior rowing where, despite our extensive efforts to cater for increased numbers and the commencement of a juniors programme at Grosvenor Rowing Club, we are unable to meet demand in the local area. The same situation applies for a number of canoe clubs who are in desperate need of more and better facilities.”
The plans are backed by the sport’s governing bodies British Rowing and the British Canoe Union and Royal Chester has also enlisted the support of Olympians Tom James and Rebecca Romero.
The club is run entirely by volunteers and can boast success at top level, including GB representation in all age groups from juniors to masters. It also provides facilities for athletes of all ages who just want to row for fitness or social reasons.
For more information about the project or enquiries about rowing with Royal Chester, contact the club captain on 07966 646407.