03:00PM, Thursday 23 September 2021
North Maidenhead Cricket Club chairman Majid Khan
Plans have been lodged with the Royal Borough to create new cricket facilities at Claires Court’s Ridgeway site.
The school fields adjacent to the boys’ school were purchased for development eight years ago and, when proposals to build a new campus – with associated sports facilities and hockey pitches that Maidenhead Hockey Club was hoping to use – were rejected on appeal by the planning inspector, the school has been considering how best to use the land.
With North Maidenhead Cricket Club having been prevented from playing at its ground at Summerleaze Park after a dispute with landlord Peter Prior, the school believes it is now able to help the cricket club while at the same time improving the sporting provision for its own students.
With the school not playing cricket at weekends it was felt there was a natural synergy for North Maids to also utilise this space if an application were successful.
In August, the school put in an application for a change of use for the laid sports turf area from agriculture to education in the form of sports pitches.
This application is now with the Royal Borough and can be viewed on its planning portal, application number 21/02500.
The school proposes to use a quarter of the 48-acre site for sport, with the remainder for agricultural use.
The school also has changing facilities and toilets so there are no plans for any additional buildings, lighting or permanent parking facilities.
Academic principal James Wilding said in his blog: “Whilst our own efforts were underway, one of the major cricket clubs in the town lost access to their ground and facilities.
“North Maidenhead Cricket Club has been a major partner with our Senior Boys School for some time, its excellent facilities providing cricket squares and nets for the last 10 years or so. The sudden closure of such a remarkable club, affected us all with no notice given.”
The club had hoped to resolve the situation with Mr Prior amicably but weren’t able to do so and the move effectively forced its withdrawal from the Thames Valley Cricket League this season.
If it is to rejoin the league in future they will need to find a new ground, or ground sharing option and the school’s plans could help with that.
The old ground at Summerleaze Park is currently being redeveloped into a tennis club, with three grass courts set to open from May next year.
Reflecting on the proposals, Mr Wilding added: "Planning applications, including this one for change of use, always require us to ensure that we demonstrate a wider benefit to the community.
“For us, assisting with North Maidenhead Cricket Club’s plight perfectly aligns given we have both lost the use of the squares at the previous North Maidenhead Cricket Grounds.
“As I’ve outlined in my blog, there are no plans for additional roadways, permanent parking or structures as our sports hall will provide all the changing and toilet facilities required.”
North Maids chairman, Majid Khan, added that he hoped this was the start of a 'positive partnership'.
He said: “Our club has been in existence for over 100 years and we used to compete in the Thames Valley Cricket League as well as the ECB National Club Cup, the CCC Cup and the Three Counties 20/20 cup.
"Although we have both Adult and Junior members, we currently do not have access to our own facilities and are very grateful for the support Claires Court offered over the summer with hosting our junior side on their existing pitches.
"Without additional help, our historic club doesn’t have grounds to be based on or support for the future. We hope that this is the start of a positive partnership and that planning for the change of use is approved.”