Light supports move to Wagon Works

Stroud News and Journal: John Light John Light

GLOUCESTERSHIRE are set to make huge financial cuts and could leave Bristol after being refused planning permission to redevelop the County Ground.

The club can still appeal the decision or submit revised plans, but they are also exploring the idea of moving their headquarters to Gloucester.

The county's former chairman and SNJ columnist, John Light, says he would support a move to the Wagon Works ground in Tuffley Avenue, which staged the Gloucester festival until 1992.

"I would love that to happen," he said.

"The old Wagon Works ground in Tuffley Avenue is still an 18-acre empty site.

"Those who remember the county playing there should also remember it only ever staged three first class matches a season.

"The old square is too small and must be enlarged. Facilities for players, spectators and media must be added. Moving there would be a lengthy and expensive process."

The planning application was refused, with six votes to four against, because the proposed student accommodation that would pay for the development was said to be too big, lacking sufficient parking and harmful to a conservation area.

Gloucestershire have played at Nevil Road for 122 years but needed to increase the capacity to 17,500 and improve facilities to meet ECB requirements and continue staging international matches, a major source of income for the club.

And Light hit out at Bristol City Council's decision, calling it "a savage blow."

He added: "When I became chairman of the club it had already been decided to improve the ground.

"Those One-Day Internationals were needed. A look at our balance sheet showed how much revenue they brought to the club. Without that financial boost our future existence would be in doubt. Light added: "The best cricketers in the world have played at Bristol in recent years - Shane Warne, the Waugh twins, Sachin Tendulkar. They have all played at Bristol thanks to Gloucestershire's successful staging of international cricket.

"Like the city's soccer clubs, its rugby club and now ice skaters, Bristol people are realising that their council is content with sporting mediocrity."

Gloucestershire chief executive Tom Richardson said: "This decision means that the international cricket programme in Bristol now stops and will be lost forever.

"Furthermore, our overall future in Bristol is also in doubt. It is no secret that Gloucester would be very keen to have us.

"The funding from the development will be lost and the city risks losing what could be its only (international) sports stadium.

“We need to consider our options, but time is running out."

Cllr Trevor Blythe, who voted against the redevelopment, said: "The planning committee were all of one mind that we want the cricket club to be successful, but not at any cost to the community.

"A number of other cricket grounds have been brought up to international standards without building a seven-storey block of flats."

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