Local councilors and residents of the Woodcock Estate in Farington are pushing back after Lancashire Cricket Club unveiled new Farington ground plans yesterday.
The new plans, announced by Lancashire Cricket Club and Lancashire County Council, would create a new year-round sports facility for Lancashire, which would host a number of men’s and women’s competitive matches each year when Emirates Old Trafford is unavailable, whilst also providing a training base for the Red Rose’s men’s and women’s teams.
Subject to public consultation and planning determination, the new facility will become a Centre of Excellence for Women’s Cricket in the North West, and will include two full-sized cricket pitches, training facilities including nets, a new pavilion including a gym, changing rooms, hospitality space, as well as cycle and car parking.
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Owned by the county council, the proposed site is alongside the A582 Farington Road on the west side of Stanifield Lane, but South Ribble councillors have expressed disapproval of these plans.
In a statement, Councillor Paul Wharton-Hardman and Councillor Jacky Alty, South Ribble Borough Councillors for the Farington East Ward said: "We are astonished that this has been announced in this way with no consultation with either Farington Parish Council or the South Ribble Borough Councillors representing the area.
"This development will be highly controversial, as it is right in the middle of greenbelt and protected open space, and in an area already overwhelmed with vehicular traffic, something
Lancashire County Council have failed to act on for many years.
"Adding a 5000 capacity stadium in this location will not only be highly detrimental to the lives of local residents we represent, but also will have a huge environmental impact.
"Furthermore, we are convinced that Lancashire County Council cannot deal with this planning application and will be seeking legal advice from the local planning authority."
The proposed site will be right next to the Woodcock Estate, which is currently home to six residential properties that overlook four large fields.
One resident of the Woodcock Estate said: "The main objections for us, as residents, is that it's quiet down here, it's secluded, people can drive past here for twenty years and not know that there’s houses down here, and obviously that’s going to change.
"The T20 matches that they’re proposing will go on into the evening, so there’s going to be floodlights, and when it goes dark here, it's pitch black because there’s only one street light, and there's no noise either, but that is all going to stop, it's going to be constant maintenance and a constant flow of people every day, and we just don't get that here, that's why we live here. I’ve lived here 21 years, but the longest standing neighbours have lived here over 60 years, so it's a long standing community and people have enjoyed a quiet lifestyle here for generations so to have that taken away is going to be heartbreaking, especially for the older residents, so they want to fight it as much as they can."
A press release by Lancashire Cricket says that the designs for the site have been sensitively and carefully designed to respect the open and green setting, and protect the amenity of neighbouring residents, whilst new tree planting, landscaping and green spaces will provide an attractive setting and provide screening for local properties.
It added that the site has been identified as the preferred location after considering the necessary requirements for the new facility, including location, access and the space required.
A public consultation is now underway regarding the plans, and the Woodcock residents say they will make their objections known.
The Woodcock resident added: "The benefit for the local community is going to be minimal, they’re going to get 5000 people coming on events days but they’re not going to be spending money in the local community, there going to be spending it in the grounds to the benefit of Lancashire Cricket and Lancashire County Council. We don’t have a big cricket community in Leyland as far as I’m aware, there is a cricket club on Fox Lane but then their event space is going to suffer because of the new ground so it is taking business away from another local cricket club.
"Stanifield lane is also the main road between Lostock Hall and Leyland so if there’s ever an accident on the motorway, it gets so gridlocked around here, and just on a normal working day the traffic is really heavy, so on event days, we won’t be able to get in and out of our houses and that is a concern. Another concern is that its a big development on greenbelt land.
"So it's a big disruption and it could be done somewhere better, not withstanding the fact that across the road there is the IKEA development which Lancashire County Council have wasted over £3 million beginning the development of, that has now been halted because IKEA pulled out- that would be a better site for it because it's not impacting on any residents!"
In response, County Councillor Aidy Riggott, Cabinet member for economic development and growth at Lancashire County Council, said: "This is an exciting project which will bring new cricket facilities into the heart of the county, encouraging more people to get involved sports and improving health and wellbeing, as well as creating new education and training opportunities.
"The consultation period has opened ahead of the submission of a planning application and it is intended that everyone can give their views about these proposals prior to planning. This will help us to shape our future plans for the site, and we encourage people to do this.
"The proposed future use of this site has been designed to minimise impacts on neighbouring residents, the local community and preserve the nature of the setting. As such it does not include a stadium.
"We have already looked carefully at how the road network would be affected, as part of detailed work to prepare these proposals, and plans are being developed to encourage sustainable transport use. This site is a short distance from bus routes and two local train stations.
"The proposal falls under Regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning General Regulations 1992, this means that the county council must determine this planning application."
To find out more about the proposals and to give comments, click here.