Derwent to challenge Old Trafford decision in July

A date has been set at the Court of Appeal in London to hear the appeal by Albert Gubay's company against Lancashire County Cricket Club's ground redevelopment plans.

Isle of Man-based Derwent Holdings is seeking leave to appeal the High Court decision in March upholding Trafford Council's approval of the cricket club's £32m proposals that includes a 100,000 sq ft Tesco store.

The latest legal challenge to LCCC by Derwent Holdings will take place at the Court of Appeal on 4 July.

Gubay's company had planning refused by the local authority for a Sainsbury's store to built at its nearby White City retail park and accuses Trafford Council of double standards for allowing a Tesco store to be built as part LCCC's plans.

Jim Cumbes, chief executive of Lancashire County Cricket Club, said it is the most crucial date in the club's 153-year history.

Cumbes said: "Mr Gubay's own plan for a rival food store at White City has been rejected by the planning authority and a public inquiry. His latest challenge seems a pointless exercise, but it is creating huge uncertainty for us due to its financial implications.

"It is still not too late for Mr Gubay to drop this further legal challenge, and I urge him to in the interests of cricket and the whole sporting community of the North West."

Lancashire County Cricket Club's plans are being delivered by the club, Tesco and property partner Ask Developments and include investment in new pitches, stands, player and media facilities and an extension to the ground's indoor cricket school and public areas.

Two new grandstands and a refurbished Pavilion will ensure a capacity of 15,000, capable of rising to 25,000 with temporary seating, and a screen showing action replays.

The second phase is part of a £70m overall development that includes the completed The Point conference suite.

Lancashire County Cricket Club has started work on phase two despite facing legal opposition from Derwent Holdings.

The club is implementing its legal planning consent by moving ahead with the installation of four new 53-metre high floodlights, which will be completed by the 20-20 match with India in August.

Cumbes believes that the full development programme that will see a transformed Old Trafford fit to host the 2013 Ashes can still be maintained.

Cumbes added: "The future prospects for the club will rest on the decision, make no mistake. We are confident of winning and bringing to an end a protracted legal process which has been draining the club financially and preventing us from transforming our ageing ground and facilities."

Following the High Court decision in March, Cumbes said the club had incurred costs of £1.6m on legal fees and other advice in getting to that stage.

The club has also lost £2m from the North West Development Agency and £1m from Sport England for indoor facilities due to deadlines for grant programmes expiring.

Drivers Jonas Deloitte act as advisors to Lancashire County Cricket Club, which has also had the backing from the former England cricketer and arguably the club's most recognised player Andrew Flintoff.

Gubay made his fortune from Kwik Save and Total Fitness.

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Tesco in employing Philip Clarke as their top man must have known of Clarke’s non executive role at the very lowly Whitbread Plc. from 2005. What is rather interesting about this non executive interest of Clarke at Whitbread is the loyalty card scheme as one example. Sainsbury’s operate the Nectar loyalty card and so do Whitbread! If the other innocent readers of this article understand this conflict of interest to be minor then maybe the assessment of Whitbread’s stunning credentials and results of the last few years may help. Whitbread have made money with their cheap hotels and their coffee bars. Both these markets have been markets of intense growth for many logical reasons. This does not demonstrate tangible evidence of capable management alone and certainly not any from the cheap hotel side in particular. Whitbread has also sold heavy brands like Pizza Hut and David Lloyd to name just two asset losses. If Tesco can allow a Nectar card man of cheap hotel background success to run their immensely proud and selective management teams and let it be with respect to their own Clubcard; then what a powerful man Clarke must be. Definitely an issue. DINESH R MAKWANA


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