People power has brought a massive £32million makeover of the Edgbaston cricket ground to a shuddering halt.
Angry residents packed a meeting of Birmingham City Council planning committee to complain that the scheme would make their lives intolerable.
They said the project, which includes permanent floodlighting, new stands, a housing development and hotels, is too large and will cause traffic chaos.
Councillors agreed and refused to grant planning permission. They deferred a decision and urged the club to talk to residents about ways in which the proposal might be toned down.
The committee also ordered council transportation officials to conduct traffic impact surveys.
The decision, against the advice of planning officials who recommended approval, will alarm the council’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat cabinet which agreed to lend Warwickshire County Cricket Club £20million toward the cost of the work.
City council leader Mike Whitby has identified improvements to Edgbaston as a key pillar in Birmingham’s attempts to lure international sport to the city.
But cabinet approval for the loan, two days before the planning committee meeting, angered residents who described the move as a “cynically-timed decision”.
Club officials insist ground improvements are essential if Edgbaston is to continue to stage Test cricket and lucrative Twenty20 night-time matches.
But the scheme has stirred up an avalanche of public protest and the council received more than 60 letters of objection.
Cannon Hill Neighbourhood Forum chairman Leo Nation said a similar proposal involving permanent floodlighting had been rejected by the council eight years ago – a decision upheld by a government planning inspector.
Mr Nation said: “Each of the pylons will be as tall as a 20 storey building and each light panel as big as the side of a house. A source of civic pride and beauty would become an eyesore dominating the landscape for ever.
“There will be more light pollution and major disruption to the natural ecology.”
Coun Paula Smith (Lib Dem Hall Green) said: “If the cricket club had met with local people from day one we wouldn’t be in this position now.
“This scheme raises many concerns, not least the hotels and the houses.”
WCCC chief executive Colin Povey insisted glare from the new floodlights would not be as great as the existing temporary floodlights, which the club can continue to use without obtaining planning permission.