A CITY rowing club is hoping to make a real splash to ensure a planned expansion at its riverside boathouse gets off the ground.

Durham Amateur Rowing Club (DARC) is awaiting confirmation of planning approval to develop a new boat store and fitness room, plus an upper floor extension to add a terrace and conference facilities, with external staircase at its Green Lane base.

There are no objections to the proposals, but neighbouring Durham City Cricket Club has raised concerns over increased vehicular access at busy times off Green Lane.

Should county council planners give the go-ahead it is hoped the scheme will be able to begin by 2020, providing funding is in place.

It is the latest development of the club under the long-term stewardship of chairman Barry Hudson, who was awarded an MBE in last year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to the community and specifically to rowing.

He helped to oversee the last major boathouse development in 2009, following a £1.2m fundraising drive.

Formed in 1860 for, “a few gentlemen interested in aquatic sports”, it was still a male preserve with less than 50 members when Mr Hudson first went to the club, in the late 1950s.

The latest addition to facilities will help to cater for a growing membership of about 400, including male and female junior, senior and novice crews.

But it is expected to cost upwards of £800,000.

Several hardy annual events help to keep the club funds healthy, despite the high costs for equipping a number of crews, but more new activities are planned to ensure the target is met.

The now regular events include helping to stage the annual folk party in Durham, on the last weekend of July, with three regattas of note, including an all-comers’ event for novice crews in the community and business world, in mid-July.

But the latest addition to the boathouse calendar will be the first DARC Beer Festival, on Friday/Saturday June 15/16, featuring more than 30 regional real ales and ciders, plus some local gins and artisan food stalls.

Club steward John McCudden said: “We were supposed to hold it last year, but with the number of events here, it went by the wayside.

“There seems to be a lot of interest and if it all goes well it may become a regular event.”

Further details are on the club website, with pre-booking expected to be essential to guarantee entry.