Business leaders are backing controversial plans to redevelop Edgbaston cricket ground after they were blocked by councillors.
Proposals to invest in new stands, improved hospitality and media facilities, a new pavilion, floodlighting, housing, offices and hotels hit a snag last week when Birmingham City Council’s scrutiny committee blocked the scheme.
The council’s cabinet had promised to bankroll the development with a £20 million cash handout to Warwickshire County Cricket Club but concerns have arisen about additional traffic and the impact of noise on people living nearby.
But Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Jerry Blackett has urged councillors to re-think the attempt to block the plans to boost the city’s economy.
In a letter to the Birmingham City Council’s planning officer Simon Turner, Mr Blackett said: “The retention of an international sports stadium in the second city, guaranteeing worldwide exposure for the city every year, is important for every business based in Birmingham and every person living here”.
The letter points out that international cricket at Edgbaston contributes up to £12 million each year to the local economy by attracting 200,000 visitors each year to the fixtures.
Mr Blackett also said Edgbaston is one of only two international venues in the region with a particularly high recognition rating in the important Asian markets, the redevelopment will create an estimated 1,300 permanent jobs, and it is opportunity to attract potential investors and employers from other parts of the UK and overseas.
“Being able to stage major international events in Birmingham plays a major part in the way our city and region presents itself to the rest of the world,” Mr Blackett said. “While the chamber understands there is a requirement to protect the amenity of local residents, there can be no doubt of the link between low household incomes and social deprivation.
“The economic benefits of this project and the employment opportunities it would bring would make a significant contribution to the wellbeing of many local people.”
Warwickshire County Cricket Club still hopes that its £32 million plans will be approved by the city council, and said the redevelopment of the ground is essential if Birmingham is to remain a venue for international cricket.