Dean Park cricket ground 'developer threat'

The Duke of Edinburgh walking to the wicket at Dean Park in 1949 Image copyright PA
Image caption Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, is among the famous names to have played at Dean Park

Campaigners fighting to save Bournemouth's Dean Park cricket ground fear it could be bought by developers when a moratorium on its sale expires.

The ground is leased to Bournemouth University but owner Cooper Dean Trust is putting the site out to tender.

Sports partnership Active Dorset has applied for lottery funding to save the ground but campaigners fear any potential grants could come too late.

The trust said reports it could be sold for development "were nonsense".

Friends of Dean Park successfully applied to register the Grade II-listed ground as a community asset, giving members six months to put together their own bid before the site could be sold.

'Maximise income'

Chris Kelly of the group said: "The moratorium runs out on 11 June but the Heritage Lottery Fund won't be meeting until the end of June or early July, so there's that little window of three or four weeks that somebody could snap it up."

Martin Kimberley, chief executive of Active Dorset, said: "The Cooper Dean estate have been very straightforward all the way through - they have a responsibility to maximise their income for their charitable benefits.

"Our proposal does meet some of their charitable outcomes... but there's certainly a risk that someone could come with a lot of money and buy it and close it for cricket."

A statement from the Cooper Dean Trust said: "Much of the interest in the ground has been from sports-related users... and the frequent reports that it is being sold for development are nonsense."

Bournemouth University, which has leased the ground since 1995, said it would not be renewing its agreement when it expired in November.

Since the 1870s, the ground, near Bournemouth railway station, has hosted players including the Duke of Edinburgh, WG Grace and world cricket stars.

Image copyright Google

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