Plans to increase capacity, enhance the fan experience and underpin the long-term future of The Ageas Bowl cricket ground in Southampton have been unveiled.
The vision is to transform the existing infrastructure at The Ageas Bowl, whilst also underpinning the financial sustainability of an important community asset, the home of Hampshire Cricket, thereby helping to protect the legacy of the club and venue for future generations.
In partnership with Land & Development Advisory Limited (LDA), a team of specialist consultants have been engaged in the planning process to expertly guide the proposal to this pre-application stage.
The scheme would rely on unlocking value from a proposed residential development scheme, the income from which would then be applied to redevelop the venue and accelerate the pay down of legacy debt.
The proposed residential development to the west of the stadium would provide a mix of units comprising 103 houses and 80 apartments and would utilise existing car parking space, which is currently not optimally sited. A high-quality independent living facility is also proposed to the southwest of the stadium, housing 71 en-suite units.
Two new car parks, one adjacent to Botley Road and one adjacent to Charles Watts Way, would be built. This would double the amount of on-site car parking available and see the creation of new access points which would significantly improve traffic flow on match days, in particular relieving congestion on Botley Road.
Pedestrian access to The Ageas Bowl would also be enhanced, with new visitor arrival infrastructure proposed which would include a new fan village, providing additional facilities and amenities as well as de-conflicting pedestrian and vehicle access to the venue.
The existing clubhouse for Boundary Lakes Golf Club would be relocated – to off Moorhill Road - as part of the proposal, further reducing the pressure on road infrastructure immediately adjacent to the venue and improving traffic flow on match days. The relocation of the clubhouse would be accompanied by significant enhancements to the Boundary Lakes course, making it one of the best in the area.
A new hotel is also proposed, comprising 135 double bedrooms and a large event space to complement the existing Hilton at The Ageas Bowl hotel currently on-site. This new facility would offer required additional accommodation whilst also helping to attract larger conferences and events to the local area.
A new well-being centre is included to the northwest of the stadium which would accommodate a range of health services, such as physiotherapy, GP medical consultation rooms, a pharmacy, opticians, a pilates and yoga studio, and a gymnasium.
In addition, the development envisages a widening of the stadium footprint which would allow for an increase in capacity while enhancing fan experience. This would support The Ageas Bowl’s ongoing aspiration to host additional major international matches and events.
Additional finances generated via the development would allow the venue to accelerate repayment of a significant amount of legacy debt which would underpin financial sustainability and help to protect jobs at the venue and in the local area.
The Ageas Bowl Chairman, Rod Bransgrove said:
The sharing of our transformational plans with the public is an incredibly exciting moment. These ambitious plans represent the fulfilment of our original pledge to secure the long-term future of The Ageas Bowl and Hampshire Cricket whilst further enhancing our amenities for the local community. The plans have been expertly guided to this pre-application stage and we now look forward to receiving feedback from the public to assist us in shaping our final submission.
The plans have been through a number of design iterations following consultation with the council and the design review panel. The public are now encouraged to put forward their feedback for consideration.
PSAM editor John Sheehan caught up with Yves De Cocker, Managing Director of PitchTecConcept, who explains how his company bridges the gap between sports organisations and the technology used in the playing surface industry.
The interview covers:
Yves 20+ years industry leading experience in the evolution of hybrid grass, trends he has noticed and some of the notable projects he has been involved with
The key reasons for Yves launching PitchTecConcept
Common mistakes often made with playing surface management
The steps he offers as a bridge between the industry and the end user
Advice to clubs looking to maximise their event calendars without compromising on the performance of their playing surface