Tuesday 23 September 2008 

Trafford Council Approves Old Trafford Plans

Lancashire County Cricket Club has revealed its eagerly-awaited plans for the radical re-development of Old Trafford cricket ground, set to transform the historic venue into one of the country’s premier sporting destinations.

The Executive of Trafford Council have unanimously approved the proposals, part of an innovative sports-led regeneration strategy for a 50-acre mixed use neighbourhood in Old Trafford. A planning application for the first phase of the new stadium development will be lodged imminently with works potentially starting in early 2009, and phased over consecutive years until completion in late 2012.

The Club, which celebrated its 150th anniversary last year, has put together the plans following months of extensive collaboration with a range of local land-owners and funding partners.

The striking new designs aim to retain the heritage and history of this very famous ground by enhancing the existing pavilion, as well as adding stunning new player and media facilities, conferencing, banqueting and hotel facilities. Two new grandstands will ensure a capacity of 15,000 capable of rising to 25,000 with temporary seating. There will also be floodlights and a screen showing action replays. The architects are BDP, the sports ground experts which designed the new stands and facilities at Aintree and Wimbledon.

In cricketing terms, part of the first phase will include a completely new outfield which is currently being installed. The new system, based on the design at Lord’s Cricket Ground, will mean much faster drainage of the outfield, thereby allowing play to commence earlier after heavy rain than is presently the case. The new designs also include the re-orientation of the wicket, to see the square run from North to South for the first time in 150 years. Changing the original East to West orientation will resolve sunlight issues which have affected players. The new square, which will take 18 months to bed in, will also be larger in size, allowing for five new wickets to be constructed, giving Lancashire County Cricket Club the ability to bid for more high profile matches, including internationals. To allow the wicket to be ready in time for The Ashes in 2013, play would need to begin on the new square in 2011.

The proposals are being brought forward by a dynamic partnership between the club, Trafford Council, Ask Developments, Tesco and the neighbouring Stretford High School. They include new facilities offering a host of educational and training opportunities for the local community.

The high school’s Head Teacher Derek Davies says: “The club is in detailed discussions with the school and its governors, as well as the local authority, to identify how the proposals can deliver maximum benefits for the local community. This is an exciting opportunity to get Trafford’s young people a great result.”

The proposals come at a time of fierce competition for the rights to stage International Test Matches which has recently seen the ground, and the region, fail to secure any for the foreseeable future. The significant investment being made in the new facilities will ensure that Old Trafford regains its rightful place on the International Test Match circuit in time for the 2013 Ashes Test.

Across the wider Old Trafford neighbourhood the Club and its partners are considering a range of mixed-use activities including new business, residential, retail and leisure space. Trafford Council are evolving a series of options for the Listed Trafford Town Hall as part of the masterplan. The partners are about to embark on a detailed consultation exercise to ensure the proposals secure the maximum regeneration benefits for the Borough as well as securing the future of international cricket at the ground.

When developed in full the “new” Old Trafford neighbourhood could accommodate in excess of 750,000 sq ft of new development with a potential end value of £200m, creating more than 2,000 new jobs.

LCCC Chief Executive Jim Cumbes said: "The Old Trafford brand has a massive standing in world cricket. The club has been on the same site since 1857.

“Our membership and cricket lovers everywhere recognise the contribution that the club makes locally to the economy through visitor attraction, image, marketing and employment in the Borough.

“Together with our local partners, the Northwest Development Agency and Sport England, we will work towards delivering a scheme which will have at its heart a new stadium fit for the next 150 years, and which will be recognised as world-class standard, fit for the UK’s greatest sporting city region and serving the huge cricketing fan base in the north west.

“I am delighted that Trafford Council have, in principle, welcomed our vision for this international sporting initiative to become a reality. It will deliver huge economic benefits both for Trafford and for the north-west region.”

Leader of Trafford Council Susan Williams said: “We warmly welcome the proposals as a basis for wider consultation. We fully support the club’s ambitions to secure the future of international cricket in the north-west and we look forward to it gaining a richly deserved international profile. The new Old Trafford will bring an awareness and interest to the borough which will further boost our famous sport, leisure and visitor offer.

“We are delighted at the high calibre partnership, who are working together to put forward a project that could potentially bring major investment, jobs and educational and sporting opportunities to the borough and its residents.”

Ken Knott, Chief Executive of Ask Developments, said: “Ask Developments is delighted to be appointed as Old Trafford’s development partner for such an outstanding mixed-use scheme, which will contribute greatly to the borough and see Old Trafford rightfully regain its reputation as a world-class venue.”

Michael Kissman, spokesman for Tesco, said: "Tesco are very pleased to be part of this innovative partnership. It is a great example of the imaginative thinking required to drive forward such a major sports project and regeneration initiative. We are confident that together we will deliver a whole range of benefits for the people of Trafford, Greater Manchester and the North West as a whole.”

Detailed discussions with both the Northwest Development Agency and Sport England, both of whom have expressed an ongoing desire to support this important regional and nationally significant sporting and regeneration initiative are progressing very positively.

© Lancashire CCC