LANCASHIRE County Cricket Club Chief Executive Jim Cumbes says the High Court decision over its ground redevelopment plans will be critical to the future of international cricket in the North West - and to the future of the club.
The action brought by Bermuda-based Derwent Holdings against Trafford Council over the re-development of LCCC’s ground will be heard in Manchester on Monday February 28. A judgement is expected by Friday March 4.
Derwent, owners of the nearby White City non-food retail park, applied in December for a last-minute Judicial Review of Trafford Council’s planning approval of the club’s plans - despite the confirmation by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government that the £70m investment plans need not be referred to an inquiry.
Says Mr Cumbes: “This could be the most important week in the club’s history. This will be a make or break decision, the stakes could not be higher. We are confident that the case presented by Trafford Council, the club and its partners is robust.
“The club has spent £1.5m on costs associated with planning, advisors and in particular, Derwent’s delaying tactics. There has also been a £2m reduction in grants as a result of not being able to start the development programme as planned.
“If we win, we can transform the ground and bid to host the 2013 Ashes. If we cannot bring the ground up to international standard, the North-west will lose Test cricket and the Ashes for good. In addition, schools and young people locally will miss out on much-needed sports and community benefits.”
This week, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government upheld the rejection by a Planning Inspector of a separate Derwent appeal, this time into Trafford's refusal of its planning application at White City.
Alan Burke of LCCC partner Ask Developments says: “Now a new foodstore at White City has been ruled out once and for all, we are bemused as to why Derwent would continue their aggressive tactics to over-turn the cricket club’s planning consent.
“If Derwent are successful in their High Court challenge, then the consequences for LCCC, for international cricket, and the economy and profile of Trafford and the wider North west, would be disastrous. There would be no winners.”