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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 April 2006, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
Cricket critics' green concerns
Sophia Gardens, from the River Taff
The cricket club wants to expand in its parkland setting
Opponents of Glamorgan Cricket Club's bid to bring the Ashes to Cardiff in a 7.5m scheme have been holding meetings this weekend to decide their strategy.

The club's Sophia Gardens ground will need to be redeveloped if test cricket is to to be played in the city in 2009.

One campaigner Neil McEvoy claimed there has been no full environmental impact assessement of the club's plans.

Cardiff Council has pledged support for the club, insisting it has three years to get all issues resolved.

Glamorgan beat other major English counties to host Australia in the summer of 2009, although the game is dependent on securing the redevelopment of Sophia Gardens.

The planned redevelopment would treble the 5,500 capacity of the ground, which stands in city park land. Cardiff Council is due to decide on the plans on 10 May.

I would say Sophia Gardens is probably the worst place in the city to develop such a huge stadium
Neil McEvoy, Save Our Parklands

Objectors claim the scheme would adversely affect the listed parkland setting.

Neil McEvoy, a former councillor and spokesman for the Save Our Parklands campaign, said: "The Ashes are very welcome in Cardiff but this development is in the wrong place.

"I would say Sophia Gardens is probably the worst place in the city to develop such a huge stadium. Within Cardiff there are brown field sites which we could develop. They've not been looked at.

'Public transport'

"I would like somebody to explain to me why, in the rush to develop, there has been no full environmental impact assessment. It's quite shocking."

Sophia Gardens
There may well be traffic issues...but we've got to make sure the traffic and highways people plan those out
Russell Goodway, Cardiff Chamber of Commerce

Mr McEvoy said the environmental studies conducted so far paid only "lip service" to likely impact of the scheme.

He added: "I think people are horrified that there is no provision for any improvement in public transport."

Russell Goodway, chief executive of Cardiff's Chamber of Commerce, said bringing international cricket to the city would add to its reputation as a place to visit, boosting the hospitality and tourism sector on which 15,000 jobs depended.

He said many of the concerns raised about the development sounded similiar to the objections once heard about the Millennium Stadium which he said had threatened "grave consequences that never transpired".

He said: "There may well be traffic issues relating to this development but we've got to make sure the traffic and highways people plan those out, those problems have to be planned out and it's possible to do it."

After Thursday's announcement of the Ashes fixture, Elgan Morgan, council executive member for environment and transport insisted that the planning committee would make its decision "on planning rules and regulations as it always does".

He added: "It will have to stick by the law otherwise it will be open to challenge." Campaigners, who held a meeting on Saturday, hold a further meeting at Pontcanna Scout Hall, Fields Park Road, Pontcanna, at 1900 BST on Sunday.

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