AN exciting new £15 million redevelopment of Worcestershire’s New Road cricket ground has been approved by city planners.

The city council's planning committee approved the plans including the construction of a 120-room hotel, new entrance area and car parks, at a meeting yesterday.

They backed the scheme despite strong opposition from key local and national heritage groups.

The Worcester Civic Society, English Heritage, the Inland Waterways Association and the city’s advisory body on conservation areas all lodged objections, complaining the hotel’s “modern” and “simplistic” design is not in keeping with England’s most beautiful county cricket ground.

Those criticisms led the plans to be revised back in April. The proposed hotel has been reduced in height by one storey, and the entrance modified.

However, top city planner John Wrightson recommended the scheme be approved. In his report, he said a “high-quality design” is “critical” for a site in such a sensitive position, describing the ground’s celebrated views across to the cathedral as “a vital asset” to both the club and city.

Club chief executive Mark Newton stressed the importance of the hotel scheme to the club’s future. He said: “We are determined to maintain the tradition of the club on this site, but we have to create 21st century facilities. This will give us security in this location – everyone is aware of how much we lost in the floods of recent years. I understand the concerns, but we have to create something that’s practical to operate, and so the most important thing is something that’s affordable.”