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Accrington £2m sports hub applicants reject ECB concerns over cricket provision

Sixty letters of support have been sent for the Accrington Stanley Community Trust scheme

The plans drawn up by the Accrington Stanley Community Trust for the new sports hub at the Higham's Playing Fields

Accrington Stanley Community Trust has rejected claims that a proposed £2 million community sports hub would have a ‘serious detrimental impact on cricket in the area’.

A letter from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) sent to Hyndburn MP Graham Jones on October 24 raised ‘concerns’ about the proposals and the lack of an up-to-date valid playing pitch strategy (PPS) in the area.

However, Trust bosses said since the letter was written they have had ‘positive dialogue’ with the ECB and Sport England and that ‘both organisations are supportive of the sports hub proposal’.

ASCT wants to transform Higham’s Playing Fields to include a multi-use building to replace the current structure on the site, a full-size floodlit artificial football pitch, three grass pitches for football and rugby and a new artificial cricket wicket, and a 55-space car park.

In the ECB letter written by David Mahoney, director of strategy and public policy, to Mr Jones he said: “The ECB shares your concerns that the proposal, in its current state, could have a serious detrimental impact on cricket in the area; an area which as you rightly point out, is passionate about the game.

“ECB is in ongoing discussions with Sport England, the Trust and the local authority and it is evident that the lack of an up-to-date valid PPS is the root cause of the issue here.”

The plans drawn up by the Accrington Stanley Community Trust for the new sports hub at the Higham's Playing Fields

In response to the letter, Mr Jones said: “Whether the proposals should be taken forward, I am of the opinion that they could be more cricket-orientated.”

However, ASCT chief executive Martin Fearon said that they ‘do not see the sports hub having anything other than a positive effect on cricket in the area’.

Mr Fearon said the two grass wickets currently on the playing field will be replaced with a brand new ECB standard artificial wicket and there will be ‘no loss of cricket provision in the area’.

The deadline for representations to be made on the sports hub proposal is Friday, November 10.

Around 60 residents and groups have submitted letters in support of the sports hub scheme while more than 20 opposition letters and a 2,500 signature petition have also been sent to the council.

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