Campaigners protest as hearing into fate of former home of Norfolk cricket starts

Terry Dunning chairman of Lakenham Cricket Ground residents' association with fellow objectors to th

Terry Dunning chairman of Lakenham Cricket Ground residents' association with fellow objectors to the development of the site for residential use. Photo: Steve Adams

The fate of one of Norwich's sporting landmarks – Lakenham Cricket Pavilion – is now in the hands of a planning inspector, after the start of an inquiry into whether councillors were right to save it from demolition.

City councillors decided in February to turn down plans for the old cricket ground site, once the home of Norfolk cricket.

But applicant Serruys Property Company, which wanted to knock down the pavilion and build 75 homes on the land, off Carshalton Road in Lakenham, appealed, which led to yesterday's opening of a public inquiry.

Before the hearing, which will continue today, campaigners from the 120-strong Lakenham Cricket Ground Residents' Association, which wants the pavilion to be saved, held a demonstration outside City Hall.

The campaigners held cricket bats and placards with slogans such as 'Do not allow Lakenham Cricket Ground to be bulldozed out of existence' and 'Save Lakenham's Heritage'.

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Inside, Paul Kendrick, city council cabinet member for neighbourhood and open spaces, who was one of the councillors who voted to reject the plans, gave evidence about the social and sporting history of the pavilion.

He said, as well as its significance as the former home of Norfolk's county cricket team, it was constructed as a memorial to Captain Geoffrey Colman, of the city's famous mustard-making Colman family.

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Mr Kendrick said: 'The proposals would result in the complete loss of this pavilion, which will, of course, amount to direct harm to its historic significance.

'The pavilion is a non-designated heritage asset of historic significance to the history of cricket in the Lakenham and Norfolk area, and the social history of the area through its association with the Colman family.'

But Trevor Ivory, from lawyers Howes Percival, representing Serruys Property Company, questioned how Mr Kendrick could use that argument, given English Heritage had not listed the building, and the council's own officers had initially recommended that the demolition be approved.

With Serruys Property Company's plans also including a five-a-side football pitch and allotments, plus offering a sum to improve nearby tennis courts, the company argued it is providing open space and sporting facilities.

But council officers said the benefits did not outweigh the loss.

Once the inquiry ends, the inspector will make a recommendation to the secretary of state as to whether to allow planning permission.

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