Campaigners fighting to save cricket ground call for site to be listed to …

Campaigners fighting to save cricket ground call for site to be listed to block sale

By Melanie Vass

BOWLED: Dean Park cricket ground

RESIDENTS fighting to stop any potential development of Bournemouth’s historic cricket ground are attempting to get it listed as an asset of community value.

Concerned campaigners are using the recently introduced Localism Act to try and block the sale of Dean Park for up to six months.

Mike McKenna, of Cavendish Road, collected the 21 signatures needed to support their Community Right to Bid application, which is now being considered by Bournemouth council.

The 59-year-old said: “This ground, which is just a few years short of its 150th anniversary, must be one of the oldest, unadulterated sites in the conurbation.

“This is not just about cricket, it’s about an institution, a historic site. So much of the old Bournemouth has been destroyed and is no longer valued. I am just shocked that one of our most historic sites could ever be built on.”

Dating back to 1869, Dean Park has been leased by Bournemouth University since 1995 and is widely regarded as one of the best university cricket grounds in Britain.

Prince Philip captained a Duke of Edinburgh’s XI there in 1949, and W G Grace made the first of many appearances in 1903.

Central Cllr David Smith said: “I’m fully supportive of the local community. For the Cooper Dean Estates to sell this off for potential development would be a retrograde step for the local community.”

But Alastair Cowen, a trustee of the Cooper Dean Estates, said it was very unlikely the site would be sold within the next six months.

“It’s on the market and available for purchase or to lease.

“We’ve got about seven or eight people who are really showing sincere interest and at least three to four of those are sports-orientated and probably would not need any planning permission.

“The community concern is unsurprising but I think it’s really too early.”

What is Community Right to Bid?

The Community Right to Bid was one of several new initiatives introduced in the Localism Act 2011. It allows communities to nominate buildings or land for listing by the local authority as an asset of community value.

An asset can be listed if its principal use furthers or has recently furthered their community’s social well-being or social interests, including cultural, sporting or recreational interests, and is likely to do so in the future.

When a listed asset comes to be sold, a moratorium on the sale of up to six months may be invoked, giving the local community time to raise finance and make a bid to buy the asset.

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