10 May 2009
In 2000, an application by Warwickshire County Cricket Club to install 4 permanent floodlighting towers at the Edgbaston ground was rejected by an Independent Planning Inspector at a Planning Appeal Tribunal. The Inspector’s report said that “permanent floodlights would result in substantial harm to the living conditions of nearby residents in terms of dominating visual impact, noise, and disturbance”.
In late November 2008, a planning application was submitted by Warwickshire County Cricket Club for an extensive redevelopment of the Edgbaston ground, which proposed 5 permanent floodlight towers, but also intensive redevelopment of the entire site, including residential, offices, a hotel, retail facilities, restaurants/cafes, pubs/bars, and surface, basement & multi-storey parking. The application can be seen at Birmingham city Council’s website at this url: http://tinyurl.com/vpm7r with links to all of the associated documents.
A decision on the planning application was deferred by the Council’s Planning Committee in April 2009, “pending further information on highway issues, the over-intensive use of the site, and to facilitate conversation between the applicants and local residents on the proposals”. However, the application was then re-submitted by Warwickshire with only slight amendments reducing the amount of commercial and leisure floor space, and is on the agenda of the next Planning Committee meeting on Thursday 14 May. Residents’ groups have called for the application to be withdrawn pending consultation with residents, as, despite the Planning Committee’s stipulation, no consultation has taken place with local residents on the Planning application.
I am very concerned at both the initial and the continuing failure on the part of Warwickshire County Cricket Club to consult adequately with those whom the redevelopment proposal will potentially affect most – the club’s neighbours. I visited Edgbaston and had talks with the Club’s Chief Executive, Colin Povey, in which I emphasised to him that although the cricket club’s neighbours broadly supported the need for the ground to be redeveloped, they could not support the over-intensive proposals with permanent floodlight towers that were being put forward. I suggested that the best way for the club to make progress in achieving its redevelopment aims was to ensure that all the residents were properly and fully consulted to find a way forward that could be supported by all. Although apparently agreeing to hold a meeting at a time I could attend and that would be convenient to residents, I am sorry to say that Mr Povey has so far chosen to ignore my advice. On 8 May I wrote to Mr Povey again offering to help facilitate consultation meetings between the club and local residents to try to agree on development proposals that would not affect the lives of the clubs residents so adversely. A copy of my letter is printed below.
*** UPDATE ***
13 May 2009
Subsequent to my letter of 8 May, Mr Povey has agreed to meet with me to discuss my proposal. I will update my website after the meeting, which is on 18 May.
Mr Colin Povey
Warwickshire County Cricket Club
The County Ground
8 May 2009
Our Ref. BL4593/019/BL
I am writing to you about the decision to resubmit the planning application to redevelop the County Ground without further consultation with the local community and their representatives, such as myself. This seems to me to be misguided in view of the Planning Committee’s decision to defer consideration of the application (I quote from the minutes of the committee meeting) “pending further information on highway issues, the over-intensive use of the site, and to facilitate conversation between the applicants and local residents on the proposals”.
As you are aware from our conversation when I visited the County Ground, my view is that although the Club’s neighbours are broadly sympathetic to the Club’s need to redevelop the facilities at Edgbaston, they cannot support the proposals as they stand. The minor modifications that have been included in the new application do not address the concerns expressed to me. I previously advised you to undertake further consultations with the community – advice you ignored - and, even now, the hurried resubmission of the planning application indicates that you do not seem to have learned from this mistake.
The purpose of this letter therefore is to, once more; suggest that you engage in meaningful consultations with representatives of the local community. I am in contact with all the residents’ groups in my constituency and you will, no doubt have contact details of all the local councillors. I would be happy to help facilitate a meeting at which we could thrash out what would be broadly acceptable (we know we may not be able to please everybody).
If you are amenable to this, could you please liaise over dates with my constituency office on 486 2808 (mornings)?
Included in the issues that we will need to discuss are:
- the scale and appropriateness of the commercial/housing developments;
- traffic plan;
- need for loan from Birmingham City Council.
Finally, by way of constructive suggestion, it might be useful to have information available to residents of the various floodlight configurations adopted at other cricket grounds. I am aware that Surrey County Cricket Club recently completed the installation of permanent but retractable floodlight columns at their “Brit Oval” ground. As, when I am in London, I live nearby, I have been able to view the installation. When retracted, none of the floodlight columns rises above the tallest stand of the stadium. This may be an acceptable solution. I am also aware that there was no great opposition to the floodlights at Trent Bridge, (though their MP was somewhat surprised at this) which are similar to the floodlights you propose for Edgbaston. I have not seen these in vivo (and the surrounding properties and their setting in relation to the cricket ground are not strictly comparable) but perhaps you could organise a trip for residents that would be most affected by your proposals so they can at least see what the lighting columns look like? With the gathering of evidence in this way, we might be able to have a constructive meeting that can agree the way forward.
I look forward to what I hope will be a positive response.
LYNNE JONES MP