By Tim Clarke 11/01 Updated: 11/01 18:49
BUILDING work on a new 120 bed hotel at Worcestershire County Cricket Club's New Road ground could begin this autumn, if fresh plans are given the go ahead by the city council.
An application to build a Premier Inn hotel alongside new club facilities including a conference centre, offices, a supporters bar, executive suite and new ground entrance and turnstiles, has been submitted to council planners.
The £9million scheme would transform the north eastern corner of the picturesque ground and mark the second phase of redevelopment of the club's headquarters after the opening of the £2million Graeme Hick pavilion in May 2009.
The club previously secured planning permission for a hotel but has now drawn up new proposals after the original scheme stalled over funding.
It is hoped the revised plans will go before the council's planning committee in March and if they are approved building work could begin at the end of the cricket season in September.
Worcestershire chief executive David Leatherdale said the hotel and new club facilities remained crucial to the future success of the club on and off the field.
"While cricket is key to the city and what we are as a club there are only 50 days of cricket during the summer and the aim is to make this a 365 day a year business," he said.
"The success of the Graeme Hick Pavilion has proven the new facilities can work well and we know there is a desperate shortage of hotels in the city. We also know there is a shortage of additional conference facilities to go with that. Hopefully it will generate extra revenue to make this an even better cricket club."
The project stalled after the club struggled to find a third party developer to help fund the scheme but Mr Leatherdale said Worcestershire would now be working directly with Premier Inn to finance the work.
The budget hotel chain will lease the land for the new hotel from the club with Worcestershire also drawing upon funding from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to cover the majority of the remaining cost of their share of the development.
If building work begins this autumn the project would take about 12 months to complete.
"The aim would be to build the club's facilities first during the winter, which we may then have up and running by the start of the 2013 season, and the hotel would continue to be built during the summer. This would not affect the pitch in anyway," he added.
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