Lancashire Cricket has unveiled plans for a new venue designed to host community and elite sport.
The facility, to be developed in tandem with Lancashire County Council, would be located close to Preston, the hometown of Lancashire and England cricket legend Andrew Flintoff.
Plans for the facility were unveiled at TheStadiumBusiness Summit, which is being held at Emirates Old Trafford, Lancashire Cricket’s home venue.
The aim is to establish a new year-round facility, 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 Lancashire’s men’s and women’s teams. The proposals include two full-sized cricket pitches with natural sloping terraces and training facilities, including nets, a new pavilion including a gym, changing rooms, hospitality space, as well as cycle and car parking.
Lancashire Cricket chief executive Daniel Gidney said he anticipates that Lancashire’s first team would play at the venue a couple of times per season, but expects it to be known primarily as the home of the Lancashire Thunder women’s team. Gidney told TheStadiumBusiness that he expects spectator capacity of around 5,000, in line with other outgrounds away from Emirates Old Trafford.
The driving force behind the project is engagement with the local community and schools with a view to boosting participation in the sport across the region. The multi-use pavilion is anticipated to be used both for sport and education and community purposes.
In a statement, Lancashire Cricket and the county council said public engagement is now underway to help to shape the initial proposals. The plans will be subject to public consultation through the usual planning application process, with additional opportunities for individuals to comment.
Gidney said that it is hoped that work on the project could begin next year, with the first games to be played in 2025 due to the time required for the cricket pitch to develop. The club will continue to use the existing outgrounds across the North West, including Liverpool and Blackpool.
Andy Anson, chair at Lancashire Cricket, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Lancashire County Council on this project as we aim to grow the game of cricket in all its forms, from elite right through to recreational club cricket, together across the county.
“With the number of international and domestic matches, as well as other events being held at Emirates Old Trafford, the need for a second ground has become pressing. It’s something that we’ve been working on for a while and the new development will provide fantastic elite facilities for both our men’s and women’s side and can also be used for recreational cricket and the wider community.”
The two parties said the site in Farington, a village five miles from Preston and 30 miles from Manchester, was selected as the preferred location after considering the necessary requirements for the new facility, including location, access and the space required.
They added that designs for the site have been developed to respect the open and green setting and protect the amenity of neighbouring residents. New tree planting, landscaping and green spaces are intended to provide an attractive setting and provide screening for local properties.
Cllr Phillippa Williamson, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “These are exciting proposals and I’m especially pleased that these facilities would help to encourage more people to take part in sport, including younger people. We’re working in partnership with the club to make the most of this opportunity to support high-quality sports provision in Lancashire, while using the county council’s land to potentially provide a significant boost to our economy and create new jobs.”