Vale of Belvoir charity celebrates £1M clubhouse approval

The charity behind £1million plans for a new cricket clubhouse and multi-use hall in the Vale of Belvoir has moved to reassure objectors about its impact on attractive views of surrounding countryside and nearby Belvoir Castle.
An artist's impression of the planned new pavilion and indoor cricket school courtesy of the Belvoir Cricket and Countryside Trust EMN-210102-120411001An artist's impression of the planned new pavilion and indoor cricket school courtesy of the Belvoir Cricket and Countryside Trust EMN-210102-120411001
An artist's impression of the planned new pavilion and indoor cricket school courtesy of the Belvoir Cricket and Countryside Trust EMN-210102-120411001

The Belvoir Cricket and Countryside Trust was reacting to unanimous backing for the scheme, at Knipton, by members of Melton Borough Council’s planning committee.

We reported last week that parish councilllors opposed the development, Historic England expressed concerns and the council was also sent 41 letters of objection.

The opposition centred on worries that the setting of the castle and its Grade II-listed parklands would be negatively impacted and increased traffic would spoil the quality of life for residents of Knipton and Harston.

But there has also been passionate backing for the plans, which would enable cricket and leisure sessions for thousands of schoolchildren and provide a community function room for locals, with more than 100 people writing to the council in support.

Darren Bicknell, chief executive of the trust, said: “We are delighted our plans have been approved.

“We recognise that the site, on the fringe of Belvoir Park and Gardens, is a sensitive one so we have worked closely with the council’s conservation officer and Historic England on the design and landscaping to get to this point.

“The future is so exciting.

“We have a 50-year lease on the ground and look forward to working with our funding partners and supporters to make it happen.”

The new clubhouse, which will replace an unsightly pavilion, will act as the new HQ for Belvoir Cricket Club and provide new indoor nets on site.

It will act the new permanent base for the trust and the facility will also be made available to local community and sports groups.

The planning application was approved by 10 votes to zero with councillors agreeing with the recommendation of its planning officers that the public benefits of the proposal outweighed any harm to heritage assets.

The trust, a sports and outdoor education charity, says it has reached capacity during the summer months and wants to be able to deliver projects all year round with the aim of reaching more than 5,000 primary age and special needs children each year.

The new pavilion and hall will give the Trust wet weather options so it never has to cancel any school visits.

It will also support its partnership with Belvoir Cricket Club, part of the community for over 100 years, and help to develop girls and disability cricket.

Mr Bicknell, the former Notts and England ‘A’ cricketer, added: “The ground, our home for 12 years, is a unique and inspirational setting for the youngsters who visit us to play cricket, try new activities such as fishing, archery and orienteering and learn about the great outdoors.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted that it has never been more important to support our young people and we want them to be able to enjoy, cherish and protect our beautiful countryside.

“We have also received interest from local community and sports groups as well as cricket clubs for indoor nets.

“The new facility will bring people together and the Trust is determined to develop it into something the whole community can be proud of.”