Encouraging Sporting Excellence

The Duchy of Lancaster continues to support the provision of sports facilities and infrastructure on its historic Higham Ferrers estate with an agreement in principle to the letting of 11 acres to football club AFC Rushden & Diamonds. This follows agreement for an extended lease term and additional land for existing tenants Higham Town FC and the granting of a new lease to the Northamptonshire FA.

The 30-hectare site in question is adjacent to the B645 Chelveston Road in Rushden and already includes the Moulton College campus. In October this year, the Duchy also agreed to release 5.5 acres for the building of a new free school for students with special educational needs.

Commenting on the agreement, Duchy Head of Rural Christopher Sparrow said: “The Duchy is very keen to support local residents by supporting the development of sports and educational infrastructure. This is a large parcel of land and we are working closely with our existing tenants Moulton College and Higham Town FC to ensure that we can accommodate their plans for future growth. We welcome this approach from AFC Rushden & Diamonds which should complement the existing provision of community based football with a more performance focused offering and create a hub for sporting and educational excellence on site.”

AFC Rushden & Diamonds was formed by supporters as a ‘phoenix club’ in 2011. Run by supporters, its ethos is “one fan, one vote, one community, one club” and it has been searching for a permanent home since its inception. The proposed lease provides for an initial 30-year term with scope for future expansion.

Chairman of AFC Rushden & Diamonds Ralph Burditt said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for the Club. Matters have reached this stage following years of hard work in searching for a permanent home for AFC R&D. It is something upon which we have been focused from day one and allows us to plot a roadmap for the next stage of the Club’s development. We are very excited about the next few years and working with other key stakeholders in the local area to provide a football facility that East Northants can be proud of.”

The Higham Ferrers estate extends across 818 hectares centred on Higham Ferrers and Wollaston in Northamptonshire. Part of the ancient inheritance, it has belonged to the Duchy of Lancaster since the 13th century.