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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 July, 2005, 08:07 GMT 09:07 UK
Club gets go-ahead for new ground
Plan of the new stadium
The new stadium will also have an artificial turf pitch for public use
A football club in Kent with average gates of 260 is to build a 5,000 capacity stadium costing 6.5m.

Dartford Football Club's plans were approved by councillors on Wednesday night, meaning the club can return to the town after a 13-year exile.

The club has shared the ground of Gravesend and Northfleet for the past three years having previously shared with Erith and Belvedere and Purfleet.

The Southern League club hopes to have the stadium open by August 2006.

'Ecologically sound'

The Princes Park Community Stadium, being funded by Dartford Borough Council, will also include an artificial pitch for community use, a bar and function rooms and a public plaza and gardens.

The council said the stadium would be one of the most ecologically sound ever built, with timber cladding, its own water recycling system and a grassed roof.

Plan of the new stadium
The stadium will hold 5,000 fans, while the club's average gate is 260

It will be able to hold 5,000 fans, with 1,000 of them seated, but will be built with the potential for conversion into an all-seater stadium in the future.

In the 2004-2005 season, Dartford's average home league attendance was just 260, by far the highest in the Southern League Division One East.

Dave Skinner, club chairman, said the size of the stadium and the council funding were both bigger than the club had expected.

He told BBC Radio Kent the club had hoped for 1.5m but the council told him it was prepared to spend 6.5m to get the town the best possible stadium.

Mr Skinner said he hoped the non-football use of the stadium would generate money to help strengthen the team, making it more successful and lifting it through the leagues to the stage where it attracted far more than 260 fans.

Dartford had to sell its last home ground, Watling Street, after getting heavily into debt through the cost of stadium improvements which became essential when tenants Maidstone United got promoted to the Football League.


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