A planning application for a new high-quality sports facility in the heart of the county has been approved in principle by councillors – subject to any call-in from the Secretary of State.
Led by Lancashire County Council, the proposed development for Lancashire Cricket would bring together elite and community cricket on a site at Farington.
The plans, which were recommended for approval by council officers, were approved by the county council’s Development Control Committee at their meeting this week (Wednesday 1 March).
This application will now need to be referred to the Secretary of State for consideration before any planning permission could be granted – this is normal practice when proposals would affect the green belt.
The aim is to establish a new year-round facility, which would host a number of men’s and women’s competitive matches each year, as an alternative to Emirates Old Trafford, and provide a new training base for Lancashire’s men’s and women’s teams, from age-group to first team. The Club has confirmed that the current out grounds will still be utilised once the new facility has opened.
These proposals have been sensitively and carefully designed so the green setting endures for the long term, and the amenity of neighbouring residents is protected.
New tree planting, landscaping and green spaces will provide an attractive backdrop and provide screening for local properties.
This new facility would be a Centre of Excellence for women’s cricket in the North-West, further encouraging the growth of cricket in the region. In addition to providing elite training facilities for the Club, it will also be made available to the local community, including for local cricket clubs and schools.
County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, leader of the county council, said: “This is an exciting time for this fantastic project with the approval of the planning permission in principle for a first-class cricket ground in the heart of Lancashire.
“We’re proud to be working with Lancashire Cricket to bring this elite cricket facility to the county. We now await the Secretary of State’s decision on this project.
“As well as providing new jobs and a significant boost to our economy creating these fantastic facilities will support recreational cricket as we encourage more people to take part in and enjoy the sport as well as wider community use.”
The new facilities would help to support additional health and wellbeing opportunities, through active participation in sport and will assist the Lancashire Cricket Foundation in delivering nationwide cricket programmes.
The development would provide training and skills opportunities in addition to creating new jobs during the construction process and within the completed facility.
The project also aims to increase the education and training opportunities for students across varied age groups. The club has an ambition to deliver a Lancashire Cricket experience into 1,000 state schools across the county by 2030.
Andy Anson OBE, Chair at Lancashire Cricket, added: “We are delighted that the application for the cricket facility at Farington has been supported by the planning committee.
“We’ve been working with the county council on this exciting project for some time now and the new development will provide fantastic elite facilities for both our men’s and women’s squads, as well as for recreational cricket and wider community use.
“With the number of international and domestic cricket matches, as well as other events, being held at Emirates Old Trafford, the need for a second ground has become vital. The development will be a first of its kind in domestic cricket and we look forward to seeing work start on the site over the course of the year. We will keep our Members and supporters updated on its progress. I would like to personally thank the county council for their support.”
Owned by the county council, the proposed site in Farington is alongside the A582 Farington Road on the west side of Stanifield Lane, and a short distance from the M65 and M6.
Widespread community consultation took place to develop the plans, as well as with local stakeholders and representatives from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) cricket’s national governing body.
Amendments were made to the proposals to address comments made, in particular to minimise the impact on local residents.
The planning application is available to view on the county council’s planning portal.
Find out more about the plans at www.lancashire.gov.uk/cricket