The future of Gloucestershire has been thrown into doubt after plans to develop their Nevil Road home were rejected. The club could now leave Bristol, where they have played since their formation in 1870.
Gloucestershire had hoped to undertake a £10 million project to raise the capacity of Nevil Road to meet ECB standards and keep international cricket but the city council rejected their plans. Gloucestershire are now looking at several options to secure their future, one of which is a move to another part of the county.
The ground development was essential to maintaining a one-day international at Bristol, a match which brings £1 million to the city. The project was to be funded by building flats at one end of the ground but permission for this was rejected. Opponents thought the plan for a seven-story block of 147 flats was too big, didn't comply with sustainability commitments and lacked contributions towards education and green spaces.
Chief executive Tom Richardson said the club were angry at the decision to reject plans that were recommended for approval by the council's planning officers and a move away from Bristol was now a serious possibility. "We've said all along if we don't have international cricket at Bristol, and we're staring down the barrel at that, then we'll have to consider moving elsewhere," said Richardson.
Gloucester City Council have already been in touch with the club for early talks over a potential move to the Wagon Works Ground, a venue Gloucestershire used from 1923 to 1992.
The club now have to decide whether to appeal the decision to reject planning permission or seek other options. Either way, time against them. "It's a long term decision and can't be taken lightly or quickly but the clock is ticking," said Richardson. "The international in 2013 is now extremely dodgy or maybe already disappeared. With international cricket here we had a very good plan going forward. Now we have to have a serious rethink."
Another consequence on the rejected plans is the impact on the playing budget. A contract offer to Chris Taylor was conditional on the development going ahead. Taylor could now be the second senior player to leave Nevil Road, after Jon Lewis' departure to Surrey at the end of the last season.