Monday 17 December 2007 

Ford County Ground Development Plans Advance

Essex County Cricket Club has today exchanged contracts with development partners MCD Developments and Chelmsford Borough Council respectively which will clear the way for a planning application to be made early in the new year, and the redevelopment of The Ford County Ground site and its stadium.

It is proposed that most of the existing stadium will be rebuilt, with the ground capacity increasing by around 2,000 to 8,000 spectators. New residential, retail, hospitality and banqueting facilities, together with an exciting and vibrant entrance piazza and river bridge to Central Park will provide a much-needed regeneration of the ground. There will be a new multi-storey car park to replace the existing surface car parking at New Writtle Street, and the new Ashwell Graham Gooch Cricket Centre will provide state of the art practice and coaching facilities

Subject to a satisfactory planning permission being received next year, initial works could start in a year but the 2008 and 2009 seasons will continue to be played at The Ford County Ground. However, home cricket in 2010 will be taken to various out-grounds around the County whilst the major work is completed at the site. The stadium development is scheduled to be completed in December 2010 and will be fully operational for the 2011 season

Keith Brown, Club Treasurer and Chairman of The Club's Project Group said:

"This is a landmark day for the Club's redevelopment scheme on which we have been actively working for three years. Our agreement with Chelmsford Council will enable their car park to be incorporated into the overall scheme and the agreement with MCD Developments, our development partner, will enable us to move to the next stage in the project - the lodging of a formal planning application. Our plans are well advanced which will mean a high-quality development of apartments around the ground together with some restaurants and bars. These will finance the rebuilding of our facilities to a standard that benefits our players, members, staff and public."

Essex CCC Chief Executive David East said:

“We have been working very hard to get this deal concluded and are all delighted that we have the green light to go for a planning application next year. This is a fantastic opportunity for the Club to reaffirm its commitment to central Chelmsford and build a stadium that the whole community can be proud of”

Steven Byrne, Chief Executive of Ground Development partner MCD Developments, said:

“As a leading regeneration specialist, MCD Developments is delighted to be involved in this hugely exciting redevelopment of The Ford County Ground, creating a new landmark leisure and lifestyle scheme that will benefit the whole community. It is an incredibly important regeneration scheme for Chelmsford and we look forward to submitting the planning application and working alongside the Council to reach a positive outcome.”

Councilor Roy Whitehead, Leader of Chelmsford Borough Council said:

"As part of Chelmsford Council’s vision for the renaissance of the town it issued a Planning Brief for the County Cricket ground and the surrounding area. As the adjoining landowners we are delighted that we have been able to agree the inclusion of New Writtle Street car park in the development on terms that are fair to both the Club and Council Tax payers.

“Car parking in the area is essential and the Club’s scheme retains the same amount of public car parking as, at present, whilst allowing this exciting new development to take place.

“With the announcement of the complete redevelopment of Riverside last week it can be seen that Chelmsford Borough Council puts new sports facilities at the top of its agenda. We have a clear vision of 'Chelmsford Tomorrow' and the development of the Cricket ground is a key aspect of our partnership strategy which will ensure the continuation of County Cricket in Chelmsford.”

Essex County Cricket Club was advised by Cushman and Wakefield (Development), Underwood Carpenter (Project Managers) and Wollastons (Legal).

© Essex CCC