Just not cricket to replace Banstead pavilion?


A long-standing cricket club’s ambitious plans to construct a modern pavilion and expand its facilities have sparked a debate from people that live in the area, saying it would “ruin the village feel”.

A centuries old sports club wants to modernise its facilities, in part due to the massive growth of the game among girls and women, although some warn its ambitious plans overstep the mark.

Banstead Cricket Club has applied to demolish its current clubhouse, which it says was only every designed to last 10 years but has stood for 60, and replace it with a new modern facility that conforms to “Sport England and the sports governing body standards”.

It is also seeking to refurbish its pavilion to create a dedicated changing space for women and girls. While opponents to the plans aren’t arguing against its need to modernise, and would like to see the 182-year-old cricket club get a new clubhouse – they say they are worries about the size and location of the plans. They feel the potential increase in social events at the site, could have a negative impact on people living near the ground.

The club, however, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that they are “not trying to just suddenly become an events business” and that “the most important thing to stress is that Banstead Cricket Club is a cricket club”. The application has already had 252 comments with the majority (151) backing the plans and 91 objecting.

Club chairperson Neil Bowman said: “We need something bigger and we need something that has more than one room. We need to have other areas where people can hang out, or have a team meeting. We didn’t design it as a wedding venue, and we do appreciate the neighbours’ concerns, there was a concern about creating an event venue, and all the additional traffic, noise.

“I can entirely understand people’s concerns, but we are not trying to do that, we are trying to build a modern clubhouse.” The club said that Sport England and the England and Wales Cricket Board have been consulted in terms of the most ideal sighting for the new building and it’s the internal layout.

Its new location will allow people to take in matches from either of the club’s two pitches. The club has also said it will re-lay its car park with an environmentally friendly solution. Project head Ian Rusbridge said: “We are not trying to just suddenly become an events business, that’s not our game.

“We don’t foresee (a surge in) event hire, there may be a little bit more during the summer – because at the moment we can’t hire it out at all. The other thing to stress, is that the cricket club is run by volunteers, who have full time jobs, and lives and children. They haven’t got the capacity to run a cricket club let alone an events business. ” Adding to that, in terms of the design the architects we employed, their speciality is sport pavilions.”

The club has a licence until 1am but says it is rarely used and that the events held usually stop serving alcohol at 11pm. It said it did not see this changing in the future. Among the objections however include the increase in traffic around the green belt area, noise that would come from an expanded pavilion, and the determination visual impact it would have.

One objector wrote that the scale of the two-storey building was “far too large” and would “ruin the village feel” of the site. He felt the current buildings were perfectly adequate and would support plans that improved and updated the facilities within the same space.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service spoke with another resident who has also written in to object. Robert Garbut lives off Park Road, near the club, and challenged the size of the plans, its impact on traffic and neighbourhood fears the site could become a late-night venue.

He said: “It’s massive. It’s a 350 per cent increase over two floors, on another field that had never been built on before. Earth-moving trucks that will have to move into the park – I’m sure people just don’t realise what is happening. Having said all of that, the cricket club has been there for a hundred years, it’s hugely successful, they need more changing rooms.

“We assumed they would knock down the old clubhouse and build an all-singing all-dancing version of that. They also own the practice field adjacent to that – that’s where they want to build, you can understand that as it makes sense to build it on your own land rather than land owned by Reigate and Banstead Council.

“All of our objections are about the superscale of this social venue, nobody but nobody wants to be mean spirited. We want the club to be a great building not the ramshackle thing they’re in now.”

The planning application is still with Reigate and Banstead Borough Council’s planning team. A date has yet to be set for when it will be determined.

Image – visualisation of new pavilion and current inset.

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