Jim Cumbes described his joy at the Court of Appeal decision today (Monday July 4) which gives the green light to the club’s plans to re-develop Old Trafford to a standard high enough to host Test matches.
The Court of Appeal in London heard the appeal by development company Derwent Holdings against Trafford Council’s approval of the club’s ground re-development plans.
The Derwent case was dismissed by the judges with no leave to appeal.
“Today has been a crucial day, the most important in the club’s 147-year history”, said Jim. “After seven years of hard work and tough battles, we can say the future for the club is now brighter.
“We were confident of winning and we are happy we have now seen the end of a protracted legal process which has been draining the club financially.”
The legal challenge was brought by Isle of Man-based billionaire Albert Gubay’s Derwent Holdings, owner of the nearby White City retail park.
Says Jim: “It’s been a frustrating process in which Mr Gubay’s own plan for a rival food store at White City was rejected by the planning inspector and then a public inquiry. His Judicial Review challenge seemed to us a pointless exercise, but it did create huge uncertainty due to its financial implications.”
It means that the full development programme which will see a transformed Old Trafford fit to host the 2013 Ashes can still be maintained, with Jim adding: “The aim of this project was to bring back the Ashes to Old Trafford in 2013. Now we can start improving our chances of turning that dream into reality.”
The club’s plans include £32m of investment in new pitches, stands, state-of-the-art player and media facilities and an extension to the ground's indoor cricket school and public areas. Two new grandstands and a refurbished Pavilion will ensure a capacity of 15,000, capable of rising to 25,000 with temporary seating, and a screen showing action replays, and new floodlights. The development, which includes a Tesco food store on land nearby, will bring investment of at least £70m and over 500 jobs into parts of Trafford which suffer from low levels of economic activity and employment.