A ROWING club is hoping to secure £350,000 to fund a new clubhouse in Leigh.

The Lower Thames Rowing Club is hopeful Sport England will give £150,000 towards a new clubhouse on Two Tree Island, Leigh, by the end of this month.

Southend Council has already agreed to donate £200,000 towards the new facility, which would replace the club’s temporary base at the Dauntless Boatyard in Benfleet Creek, if Sport England sign off the grant.

Founding member Ron Sverdloff said: “The application was submitted about three months ago and it’s a case of ‘no news is good news.’ “It’s looking optimistic. We would normally hear if they weren’t going to proceed. I’m hoping it’s going to be positive not just for our rowing club, but for the whole community.”

The clubhouse would have room to store the club’s boats, toilet and changing facilities, a fitness suite and function rooms.

Labour councillors criticised the Tory administration last year when it agreed to pay for new facilities for a club with just 80 members at the same time as withdrawing from libraries, children’s centres and care homes. Borrowing the cash will cost the council £16,000 a year in interest and repayments.

But the authority, which would also site a new foreshore office at the building, may be able to recoup some of the money by leasing the building to the club.

The grant would be a one-off payment – unlike the cost of operating children’s centres, libraries, the airshow and other council services.

Derek Jarvis, Southend councillor responsible for culture, said: “The long-standing aspiration of the rowing club to create a sustainable community rowing facility in Southend and to establish a base at Two Tree Island moved a step nearer with the submission of our bid for match funding from Sport England’s inspired fund.

“I have been working with the club and British Rowing for several years to achieve this ambition and I look forward to a successful outcome to our bid which will enable the planning application to be progressed.”