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Gloucs receive boost ahead of ground decision

Alex Winter

May 25, 2012

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An artist's impression of the new pavilion at Bristol
An artist's impression of the new development at Bristol © Gloucestershire CCC
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Gloucestershire will go to Bristol City Council again on Wednesday to try and have their revised planning application for the redevelopment of Nevil Road approved. It is a crucial day for the future of the club. The rejection of their revised plans could see the county forced out of Bristol, their home since being formed in 1870.

As with the initial application, it has been approved by the council planning officer. But the council's planning committee ignored the advice of the planning officer in turning down the first application by six votes to four in January.

The rejection had immediate implications, with the future of the club thrown into doubt. The club suggested they would be forced out of Bristol and were contacted by Gloucester City Council about a permanent move to the city; Filton Airfield has also been explored as a possible alternative venue. There were also ramifications for their playing staff as Chris Taylor left the county - his new deal was dependent on the ground application being approved.

But Gloucestershire decided to revise their plans and reapply. The main objection was the height of the flats to be built at the Ashley Down end of the ground - the development that funds the £10 million project. That has been reduced by a storey and the club have also sought to significantly improve the sustainability of the fabric of the building.

The development is necessary for Bristol to meet ECB standards for international cricket. The capacity will be raised to around 7,000, with a further 10,000 temporary seats available. A new media centre will also be built into the pavilion's redeveloped frontage. Bristol lost its international scheduled for 2013, between England and New Zealand, but Gloucestershire hope to be able to stage an ODI against India in 2014. Failure to secure planning permission could see international cricket lost at Bristol forever.

Gloucestershire chief executive, Tom Richardson, said: "We are pleased that our proposals are recommended for approval. We have worked hard over the past few months, with local residents, councillors and community groups to respond, where we have been able, to their concerns. We feel that the development plans have been improved by this consultation and we hope that this is recognised when the application is debated and decided upon by members at the committee meeting."

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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