21st Oct, 2016

Cricket ground move will bail out the club

Rob George 9th Sep, 2016 Updated: 24 hours ago

AMBITIOUS plans which could see Evesham Cricket Club leave their historic but flood prone home after 112 years have been given the green light by planning chiefs.

Members of Wychavon District Council’s planning committee approved a bid to develop agricultural land into two cricket pitches and a clubhouse next to Evesham United’s home on Cheltenham Road at a meeting on August 25.

The green light is the first run for the cricketers in what could be a three-year innings before they take guard at their new home.

Evesham Cricket Club has been at its present location since 1904 and to any visitor it has always presented a cricket ground in idyllic surroundings.

Club Chairman John Barrett told the Observer: “It is also next to the River Avon and therein lies the problem.

“The River Avon has always been prone to flooding but in recent years, possibly due to our climate change, the flooding has become more frequent.”

Members have been forced to swap their bats for buckets on several occasions since the terrible floods which struck the town in 2007.

Back then the clubhouse and playing surface suffered serious flood damage when rain truly stopped play.

“This became a precursor to more flooding in recent years with the ground flooding in 2012, 2014 and again in March of this year,” Mr Barrett said.

“On each occasion, the cricket club has been assisted with grant funding from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Sport England to repair/replace the ground and equipment.”

Mr Barrett admitted the situation couldn’t continue and the club submitted their proposals in May in a bid to hit the threat of flooding for six.

Sport England and the Worcestershire Cricket Board have lent their support to the scheme and the club is now working on fundung to ensure the final cost of the project can be met.

Speaking at the meeting, Coun Ken Barclay said: “This is a fine addition to the Evesham sporting sites. The current cricket club is certainly unsatisfactory and this can only help the club.” he added.

Coun Richard Lasota said he had ‘no problem’ with the extra pitches but raised concerns over car parking at any new site.

“Currently when the cricket and rugby seasons clash and therefore you have home games they struggle for parking and I can see exactly the same thing happening here,” he said.

“You will have 22 players, umpires, officials etc from both sports there, that car park cannot cope when there is a busy big season match on never mind two lots of sports using it.

“I would have prefered to see an extension to the car park because I think there will be a problem there,” he added.

In response, Wychavon’s planning officers said Highways England raised no objection to the plans.

All of the council’s planning committee voted to approve the plans.