Cricket club hoping England's World Cup glory will help fresh bid to expand
PUBLISHED: 11:39 17 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:17 17 July 2019
One of Norfolk's oldest cricket clubs is hoping the momentum of England's World Cup victory will boost its plans to expand.
Fakenham Cricket Club applied to Norfolk County Council to lease the unused field next to their current ground at Highfield Lawn nine years ago to allow them to grow.
The application was refused at a late stage - meaning the council had to pay the club £5000 in legal fees - and the land remains unused.
The club would have taken on the cost of maintaining the land, but that remains with the county council.
Now, the cricket club is making a fresh bid to try to take on the land so it can double in size to about 10 acres.
Secretary Kevin Webb spoke at a Fakenham Town Council meeting on Tuesday and said: "We would love to make cricket available for more youngsters. We have teams of five to seven-year-olds, and we have cricketers starting in the county team now who have come through our club.
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"As far as I am aware, that piece of land has not been used for sport in the 30 years I have lived here. Nobody has gained from this, but the council has had to pay to maintain the field."
Planning permission for new changing rooms with an expanded pavilion were abandoned after the lease fell through. The club's third team, made mainly of younger players, currently has to play their home games in North Elmham, 10 miles away.
The club had to disband its women's team in 2017 because it could not provide enough facilties for them. Mr Webb said "We had women playing in our second team who had to change in their car. Obviously, that's not right.
"I think county council members should be ashamed at allowing this situation to continue."
District councillor Christopher Cushing supports the club's bid and said: "Now is a vital time given the recent cricket success. It adds force to the argument, and we want to take advantage of the national enthusiasm."
The land was owned by the Fakenham Academy for a period of time, and the county council has said it wants to use the land for a new special educational needs centre.
It is thought this could work alongside the cricket club's bid to expand.
The England and Wales Cricket Board originally gave a £25,000 grant for the lease of the land.