PLANS to secure Bournemouth’s historic cricket ground for sporting use and establish a new heritage attraction there have been unveiled.
Active Dorset has submitted a restoration bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which would see the listed Victorian and Edwardian cricket pavilions restored for use by the whole community.
Their bid also includes plans for an on-site education centre showcasing the town’s history, a cafe and office space.
This, along with better disabled facilities, should help the ground attract up to 25,000 visitors a year, compared to just two to three thousand at present.
The cricket ground was put on the market last year by the trustees of the Cooper Dean estate but this sale was put on hold for six months after residents succeeded in getting it listed as an asset of community value.
This moratorium is due to be lifted on June 14, when the ground will be marketed once again.
Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns visited the ground on Friday to lend his support to Active Dorset’s bid.
He said: “I am pleased to be supporting Active Dorset’s bid to restore Dean Park’s cricket pavilions to their former glory.
“Their plans to open the site to the whole community are very exciting and should ensure that Dean Park has a bright future ahead of it.”
Active Dorset chief executive Martin Kimberly said: “What we’re trying to do is preserve the cricket that takes place here and integrate it with the heritage of the site.”
They will hear whether their bid has been successful at the end of June and, if so, will formally put their proposal to the Cooper Dean estates.
Cllr Chris Mayne, president of the Bournemouth Evening Cricket League, said: “I want to see cricket retained here for future generations. I’ve been watching cricket here since the 1950s and I’ve played for the Mayor’s 11 here.
“It’s a real jewel in the crown of Bournemouth’s town centre. The thought of any kind of development fills me with horror.”