ISG delivers UK's first Urban Cricket Centre in time for Cricket World Cup

26 June 2019

ISG’s Agility team led by project manager, Garry Fairbairn, have completed the construction of the first Urban Cricket Centre for the England and Wales Cricket board (ECB), in association with the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

The new centre, which opened the day after the England vs Australia IIC Cricket World Cup game at Lord’s, is being built to inspire a new generation of people to actively participate in the sport.

The new £1.7 million facility at Leyton County Ground is the first of three pilots ahead of a planned roll out to create 20 new Urban Cricket Centres as part of the ECB’s 2020-2024 ‘Inspiring Generations’ strategy.

The ECB’s six-point plan to secure the long-term future of the sport in England and Wales seeks to broaden the appeal of cricket to new audiences, transform women and girl’s cricket, inspire through our elite teams and support local communities.

The ECB carefully selected the site for its very first Urban Cricket Centre pilot as it seeks to increase the profile of the sport to residents in city locations and attract greater diversity in the sport at grass roots level. A key element of the project is creating a space for the local community to socialise and engage with cricket in all its forms.

The scheme has seen ISG transform the underutilised sports hall on the site of the former home of Essex County Cricket Club and adopting a three-point plan to comprehensively upgrade the core indoor cricket facilities.

Designed by gcp Chartered Architects, which developed the Urban Cricket concept for the ECB, the refurbishment had an extra special focus on upgrading the flooring, lighting and netting - all delivered to the exacting standard defined by the ECB.

The team installed versatile, sports-specific flooring, designed to increase performance and withstand high levels of activity, the first ECB-approved LED lighting system to provide a safe playing environment and extensive, reconfigurable netting to create defined cricket practice lanes and a match play arena.

ISG also installed replacement windows, doors and a new platform lift giving access to a viewing balcony.

The Urban Cricket Centre will boast the very latest automated cricket technology, including a bowling machine and digital motion analysis to help players improve their performance.

An additional phase of the project sees the refurbishment of the adjacent George Mitchell Arts Centre to create a new entrance and reception, clubroom, training facilities and offices, with completion expected in early autumn.

Councillor Clare Coghill, leader of Waltham Forest Council, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be launching the Leyton Cricket Hub– the first in the ECB’s plan to develop a network of Urban Cricket Centres. “In Waltham Forest, we are totally committed to giving people the opportunity to pursue their passions, realise their ambitions and lead healthy and active lifestyles. Sport is a fantastic way of breaking down barriers to participation and this successful partnership with ECB is a real asset for our residents, adding to an already eclectic sport, leisure and cultural offer in our borough".

“Our strength in Waltham Forest is through our diversity and we take great pride in giving a platform for our South Asian communities to enjoy and participate for many years to come in a sport loved around the world.”

An event featuring ex-England cricketer Graham Gooch took place on Wednesday 26 June launching the first phase of the scheme, that was delivered in just six months, with subsequent phases to begin later in the year.

The council has approved match funding for the project of £727,000 and is applying for Lottery Heritage Funding of £1.48 million, subject to a successful Round 2 pass.

Jonathan Platt, director at gcp Chartered Architects said: “From day one, ISG has demonstrated a fantastic can-do attitude across all aspects of the site works. It’s access to an engaged, interested and professional supply chain has made all the difference in being able to deliver this project - from being commissioned in January this year to opening in June - less than six month later.”

“The attention to detail, particularly in respect of M&E coordination was the best I have experienced. Despite the intense on-site activity, the single most impressive aspect of the project was ISG’s relentless focus on site safety.”

“It was a pleasure to visit site knowing everything had been done to ensure everyone was safe and no one was putting themselves or anyone else at risk.”

Lee Phillips, managing director of ISG’s Agility business, added: “This project has delivered high-quality sporting facilities, but beyond the tangible elements, we’ve worked with our partners to create a space that allows people to thrive - where an entire community can build strong relationships and make a positive difference to each other’s lives.”

“As the Cricket World Cup is gaining momentum, this new concept is the launchpad for a string of planned urban centres of excellence across England and Wales and we are delighted to play a role in securing the future for our national sport.”

ISG has a peerless track record delivering elite sporting facilities in the UK and overseas. The company worked across every Olympic and Paralympic venue for the 2012 Olympic Games as well as building the iconic Olympic velodrome – the venue for Great Britain’s greatest medal triumph.

The company has worked in partnership with Sport England to deliver world-class venues across the UK and under a four-year, £25 million framework with leisure operator GLL, helped transform leisure provision across the London Borough of Waltham Forest between 2012 and 2016.