PLANS for a multi-million pound redevelopment of Essex County Cricket have been agreed.

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They include a new 7,500 seat stadium, banqueting suites and a sports shop.

Yesterday, Essex County Cricket Club signed a major agreement with developers MCD to begin the first phase of the project in the spring.

Around 320 new apartments will be built on land owned by the club near the stadium in Chelmsford to help fund the redevelopment.

Speaking after the agreement was announced, treasurer of Essex County Cricket Club Keith Brown said: “This will not just be a cricket stadium, it will be a destination.”

The club grounds will also include a new cricket school, a multi-storey car park along with a public piazza and a new bridge across the river.

The project was granted planning permission in 2010 but was delayed following the economic downturn.

The first phase of the project will see 62 apartments being built on the current cricket car park which will generate funds to put towards the second and the third phases.

Mr Brown said there was a lot of interest in the first block of apartments, with 90% of them already sold.

“Chelmsford is becoming very attractive,” he said. “The city status is a factor plus we’re close to the rail way and the John Lewis development is on its way.”

The total cost of the project is estimated at £80million, with profits from the lease of the club’s land being used to pay for the rest of the project.

Mr Brown said: “The current stadium is very old and quite simply, needed replacing, and the only way was to have an enabling development.

“The new pavilion will have a banqueting suite for up to 500 people and a retail facility.

“The whole site will link up to the city much more and offer much more for people to visit to the club ground.”

He said the new site would also be used to host events outside cricket and be available to hire for conferences.

Work on the pavilion itself will not begin until 2014/15 with the entire project set for completion in 2017.

The club has also reached an agreement with Chelmsford City Council to incorporate the New Writtle Street Car.

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