Gloucestershire cricket: The end of Nevil Road?

By Caroline ChapmanBBC Sport
Nevil Road
Bristol City Council has rejected plans to develop the ground at Nevil Road

The future of county cricket in Bristol has been left in the balance after planners turned down a £10m scheme to redevelop Gloucestershire's Nevil Road home in Bishopston.

The project is seen as vital to the future of the club and the repercussions of the decision, made by Bristol City Council on Wednesday night, could now affect the Division Two outfit on and off the field.

BBC Sport explores what could happen next.


Although it is a ground steeped in character and history, Nevil Road struggles to meet the commercial demands of modern day cricket - such as conference facilities and corporate boxes.

With gate receipts for county games in rapid decline, the club need to be able to prove themselves as a worthy host of money-spinning international games.

Nevil Road has hosted England one-day matches since 1999 - with the club making a six-figure profit from the most successful - but a new, improved 17,500 capacity 'super stadium' would mean Gloucestershire could compete against Cardiff and the Rose Bowl in hosting these games.


Bristol City Council say the main issue was the height of a block of flats that would have been included in the rebuild. The planning committee ruled that the seven-storey building was not appropriate for the area. Other objections related to parking concerns and the lack of money given to the community by the club.

Conservative councillor Chris Windows, who chaired Wednesday's meeting, told BBC Radio Bristol: "I do believe all the councillors were supportive of the club's aspirations, for themselves and for the city, but the committee felt the seven-storey building work was too large."


Gloucestershire have been working on these plans for nearly three years and although the main repercussions are financial, the decision will have a knock-on effect on player contracts.

Former New Zealand international Hamish Marshall has agreed to stay with the club, but his contract would be less lucrative if the development was turned down. Likewise, long-serving batsman Chris Taylor has been offered a contract subject to the plans being approved, and he has yet to commit for the forthcoming season.

The Gloucestershire squad has a number of young rising stars - including opener Chris Dent and seamer David Payne - and the club may find it difficult to keep hold of their protégées if they are offered more money elsewhere.

Bowler Jon Lewis, who left Gloucestershire for Surrey after 16 years at the end of last season, said: "A lot of places around the country are being allowed to develop and if I was a young player I'd have to be honest and say Gloucestershire wouldn't be high on my list.

"You want to develop your game and make yourself a better cricketer and if the club hasn't got the facilities to compete with other people then it's going to hold them back."


The England and Wales Cricket Board awarded Gloucestershire the chance to host one-day England internationals against New Zealand in 2013, India in 2014 and Sri Lanka in 2016, but the deal was done on the condition of the new stadium being developed in time.

If the club cannot find a solution to the ground saga in time, the ECB could offer the package elsewhere, meaning that they miss out on an important cash injection.



Gloucestershire could appeal the decision reached by the council. Alternatively, they could revise their plans so that the problematic flats are built to just five storeys high. However, the club may not feel this is an option as the budget for the development was based on the original design, and five storeys of flats will not be able to fund the project.


The club could move grounds to elsewhere in the county - Gloucester being the most likely destination. The city's Tuffley Park, where the county's cricket festival was played from 1923 to 1992, could be a viable option, although the condition of the pitch would need to be improved.

Director of cricket Tom Richardson revealed to BBC Points West they have already been approached by about the possibility of re-locating.

"There's a possibility we could move and we've already had them [Gloucester City Council] on the phone about it. Clearly that's something we've got to consider, but we have to consider all our options.

"We've got to take our decision in a robust and thought-out way."


The club own the Nevil Road site and could stay put. But, without the new development, it would be unlikely that Bristol would be a long-term option for international cricket.