Worcestershire Cricket (WC) development director Tom Hill has spelt out his delight at the Cinderella Sports Ground – a former home of Worcestershire County Cricket Club in the 19th century – being revamped and returning to its former use as a cricket square.
WC, whose office is based in The View at New Road, have been heavily involved in the project for the past four years and have helped secure a £35,000 grant from the England and Wales Cricket Board towards the total project cost of £365,000.
Worcester Dominies and Guild Cricket Club are poised to return to the site – off Bransford Road – in a groundshare with St John's Colts Football Club once it has been renovated.
The pavilion, which has not been in use for 10 years after being declared unsafe, will be renovated and extended and the target is to have the ground back in operation by April 2016.
Here Mr Hill explains the role played by Worcestershire Cricket and the importance of finding other potential sites which can be coverted into cricket-sporting facilities in the city.
QUESTION: What is the Worcestershire Cricket involvement in this project?
TOM HILL: "We've been involved for about four years now in the project right from the outset to develop a new sports facility at the Cinderella Ground.
"We've worked closely with Worcester Dominies and Guild Cricket Club. They have rapidly outgrown their existing site so this provides them with an opportunity to move up through the leagues with a better facility.
"We've managed to secure a grant of £35,000 towards the total project of £365,000 from the ECB. That is for the outfield and the 10 wicket square."
QUESTION: Why did you want to get involved in this project?
TOM HILL: "Two things really. The site means quite a lot to a large number of people in and around the city and secondly, as we all know, once a cricket club goes, generally the site tends to go.
"This is a great opportunity to get a new cricket pitch back in the middle of the city and those opportunities don't come up very often nationally, let alone in the county.
"Any opportunity to create a green space for more people to play cricket, and wider sport for that matter, is a great opportunity."
QUESTION: How did it come to your attention?
TOM HILL: "We've been part of the project group to get it to this stage and really our main interest is from the cricket perspective and a new site in the middle of the city for one of our clubs really.
"We will also be keen to look at using it for some of the junior games in the county age group and district programme.
"It is going to be a ground share with St John's Colts youth football club."
QUESTION: Is this the sort of project you like to get more involved in?
TOM HILL: "Definitely. Cricket seems to be stabilising in the city. Things have changed. People's time is a lot more precious now than it used to be and cricket has got to adapt to that.
"Hopefully, with a new lease of life and new energy on the new site, it will create more opportunities for more people.
"We know we've got a shortage in the city area of three pitches at peak times, Saturday. This should fill one of those gaps. We've two more to find so it is very much top of our agenda.
"If you haven't got grounds, you can't play. We are trying to identify where the other two sites could be."
QUESTION: How many clubs under your umbrella?
TOM HILL: "One hundred and four clubs in Worcestershire and Dudley are affiliated to us.
"Any opportunity to get a new ground is gratefully received."
*Worcester City Council granted planning permission in September 2013 for a makeover of the site and has since been in talks with its development partner, Heart of Worcestershire College, about how to finance the project.
In addition to the ECB grant of £35,000, funding will also include £50,000 from Sport England and £65,000 from Worcester City Council with the remainder raised via college coffers or private developers.
The council has now officially exercised its legal right to take the land from Arndale Property under a 25 year lease, thus allowing the renovation work to get underway.