YMCA Cricket Club, Bristol
Playing cricket at Golden Hill since 1902


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More than 100 residents from Henleaze turned up at a public meeting for a first look at plans for a new sports complex at Golden Hill - and many said they did not like what they saw.

The Bristol YMCA wants to revamp the site, off Kellaway Avenue, by building an all-weather sports pitch and floodlights - which will allow football and hockey to be played - a new pavilion with indoor cricket nets, and a 41-space car park. It plans to pay for the new development, which could cost up to 2 million, by setting aside two parts of the land for housing and selling it off to a developer.

The new plans will mean that one of two cricket pitches will be lost at the site, which has been home to YMCA Cricket Club since 1878. The YMCA said it would make up the loss by using nearby Henleaze Junior School's playing fields as a second cricket pitch.

But many of the Golden Hill residents who went to the pavilion last night to view the new design said they were opposed to the development. Dilys Thornton, aged 57, of Sates Way, said: "They want to build a car park at the back of my house. That will leave it open to burglars because there will be no security. The plans are rubbish. I have lived here for 25 years and there is nothing wrong with what we have already got."

Shirley Cainey, aged 65, of Twickenham Road, said the new facilities would lead to extra traffic coming into the area. She said: "I have lived here since 1971. I know the area - there's no need for things to be done in this way."

Simon White, the captain of the cricket club for the past 14 years, said he was in favour of a new pavilion, but criticised the plan to axe one of the cricket pitches. He said: "My main concern is that without the second pitch the whole thing is a non-starter. We have got four senior teams and four junior teams - we cannot run it on one pitch. The YMCA says it will use Henleaze Junior School playing field as an extra pitch, but they have no approval from the Local Education Authority yet. I know that the school is in favour, but without the LEA's approval that means nothing. We have built these teams up over the years, through a lot of hard work and commitment. We do not want it all to go."

The YMCA said it wanted to build new facilities at the site so it can be used for different sports as well as cricket. It said a replacement for the existing pavilion, which dates back to the 1960s, could also be used by other local groups, such as scout and guide troops.

At last night's meeting, many residents compared their opposition to the new plans with the fight against the Tesco store in the early 1990s. Thousands opposed the store in Kellaway Avenue, with many taking to the trees at the site in protest but the supermarket giant eventually won planning permission.

Paul Blackham, chairman of the Bristol branch of the YMCA, said the concerns raised by residents were legitimate and would be taken into consideration. Mr Blackham said that an outline planning application would be submitted to Bristol City Council "within weeks". He said: "We have to get the best deal we can from the LEA about leasing the playing fields from Henleaze Junior School. Car parking is essential because people come from far away to play sports here. We will consider the comments from local people. We may make amendments to the proposal as a result of this. People feel strongly. There's a lot of leftover feeling from the Tesco development, but Tesco was a commercial development - this is about better sports facilities for the community."

Source: Bristol Evening Post, Tuesday 13th July 2004

2004 YMCA Cricket Club