Cricket club faces battle over ground lease

One of Norfolk's leading cricket clubs faces a race against time to find a new home because the lease on its ground will not be renewed when it runs out in less than three years.

One of Norfolk's leading cricket clubs faces a race against time to find a new home because the lease on its ground will not be renewed when it runs out in less than three years.

Bullen Developments has told Cromer Cricket Club that it will not have the lease extended on its Norton Warnes ground on Overstrand Road after September 28 2011.

It means the club - whose trophy-winning heyday was in the 1970s - has this season and two more to find somewhere else to play.

It could be a close call for the club, with sport and recreation areas already severely limited in Cromer.

The news comes in the same week that the EDP revealed that Cromer Town Football Club faces possible eviction from nearby Cabbell Park in 2012.

The club could be forced to move because when the ground was bequeathed to the town by Evelyn Bond-Cabbell in 1922, the agreement said the trust would expire 21 years after the death of one of Queen Victoria's descendants, King Olav V of Norway, who died on January 17 1991.

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No such quirks exist in the cricket ground lease, but Bullen Development has nonetheless informed the club that it will have to move on.

No-one at Bullen Developments, which is part of RG Carter Construction, was available to comment last night.

But club chairman John Graveling said: 'We've been verbally informed that the lease will not be renewed when it runs out on September 28 2011, although they might be a bit flexible on that.'

The ground is one of the most picturesque in Norfolk, but is relatively small and is hemmed in by housing and the town's doctor's surgery.

Mr Graveling said: 'We were a bit surprised when we were told that the lease would not be renewed, but we are aware that the ground has got lots of limitations because of its size.

'We see this as an opportunity to find a much-improved situation. Everyone loves the ground, and people will miss it terribly, but we see this as a positive opportunity.'

He said the club had been in consultation with planners at North Norfolk District Council, who had suggested a 'number of possibilities' for relocation in and around the town.

Mr Graveling said the move had to be right for the club, and added: 'We don't want a ground stuck out on the edge of the town and removed from the supporters. One of the beauties of this ground is that lots of people can walk past and stop to watch the cricket.'

He said the clubhouse had not been refurbished since it was built, and it needed thousands of pounds of work to improve its condition.

He said it was useful to know that the lease would not be renewed in 2011, because it meant the club could avoid unnecessary expenditure on the clubhouse.

He added that the club had recently turned down an opportunity to host a twenty20 tournament because the short boundaries and close proximity of houses and roads would make it 'dangerous'.

Cromer Cricket Club

t The club began playing at the current Norton Warnes ground in 1946

t The ground was named after the managing director of Bullen Developments, which continues to hold the lease

t The ground had a dip, which made is susceptible to flooding, and the club was forced to move for a few years - playing at Cabbell Park and a site behind the current infants school

t The club returned to Norton Warnes ground on Overstrand Road in 1954

t Under the leadership of retired squadron leader Eric Bedwell, the club became one of the most successful in Norfolk during the late-1960s and 1970s

t Honours include: the Alliance Premier title in 1973, 1978, 1999 and 2000; Carter Cup wins in 1970, 1971, 1973, 1978 and 1979; Senior Cup wins in 1968, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1980, 1990 and 1991

t Currently has a first team in the Alliance Premier, a second team also playing senior cricket, a Sunday team and two junior teams. It also reaches up to 40 children each week with coaching sessions.