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April 8, 2009
Edgbaston's future as a Test venue is in doubt after Warwickshire's plans to develop the ground were deferred by Birmingham city council's planning committee.
Gordon Hollins, the ECB's head of venue partnership, supported Warwickshire's plans at the meeting but made a blunt assessment of what delays could mean for the club. "The deferral is very disappointing at a time when several other venues throughout the country are making rapid progress with their redevelopment programmes," he said.
"At present Edgbaston falls someway short of ECB's facilities criteria in a number of areas which is clearly not a sustainable position if Edgbaston is to retain the right to host major matches."
Test grounds in England have to meet standards set down by the ECB by 2011 to retain their hosting rights and Warwickshire now concede time is running out for them to put their plans for the venue into action. The main stumbling block has been concerns by local residents on the highways and the intensity of the development.
"We are very disappointed that the Planning Committee didn't determine the application," Colin Povey, the Warwickshire chief executive, said. "Whilst we understand the concerns of some local residents we would have hoped that the wider benefits of the scheme to the city would have been clear.
"If Birmingham is serious about being an international city this sort of scheme is exactly what is required. £12 million of annual benefit to the local economy and thousands of jobs that would have been created by the scheme are at risk if this doesn't go ahead. The longer the council prevaricate on this Edgbaston and Birmingham fall further behind the competition for the staging international cricket in the future."
A number of other grounds, notably Old Trafford, are undergoing work to bring them up to standard and Povey said Edgbaston couldn't afford to stall development any longer.
"There is no doubt that several other cities, including Manchester, will see this as Birmingham shooting itself in the foot," he said. "All grounds need to meet the criteria for staging major international matches by 2011 and there is no doubt time is running out for us whilst others are already moving ahead with their plans."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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