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March 7, 2012
Gloucestershire have one last chance to secure their future in Bristol. They have drawn up revised plans for the development of their long-time headquarters at Nevil Road and their chief executive Tom Richardson has warned that if this fails the club will leave the city.
The club's original plans were rejected by Bristol City Council in January. The main objection behind the 6-4 vote against was the height of the apartment block at the Ashley Down end of the ground - the development that will fund the £10 million project.
The design has now been reduced by a storey but will maintain 147 apartments - the number necessary to make the apartment block financially viable - by lengthening the building.
The club have held positive talks with planning officers and will hold a consultation period with local residents before submitting the revised plans. They still hope to begin developing the ground at the end of this season.
"We're very committed to make our plans work here at Nevil Road," Richardson told ESPNcricinfo. "We've been at this a long time. We sought to take into account a number of things that were said about why the planning application was turned down and we're going back to talk to our neighbours and all other stakeholders and take their views on it."
The development of Nevil Road is essential for Gloucestershire's ambitions to keep international cricket in Bristol. The club hopes plans to raise the capacity to 17,000 and build a new media centre and conferencing facilities will secure a least one ODI per season, a match which brings £1 million to Bristol.
But if these revised plans are rejected again, it could mean the end for Gloucestershire in Bristol. The club have already sounded out alternative venues. Tuffley Avenue in Gloucester is one potential new site and a 20,000 international stadium at Filton Airfield has emerged as another option as the county's new home.
Gloucestershire have already been stripped of next year's ODI against New Zealand and Richardson admitted the club are in the last chance saloon to keep Bristol as an international venue. He said: "I think we'll run out of time if we fail again and international cricket will be a thing of the past."
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