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Populous and David Morley go head to head for Lord’s Nursery End facelift

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Members of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) are set to choose between rival plans by Populous and David Morley Architects to overhaul part of Lord’s cricket ground

This morning (9 June) the famous club’s 18,000 members will be shown two alternative sets of development plans mainly focusing on the Nursery End of the ground.

The proposals have been described by the MCC as ’largest piece of analysis ever produced in the Club’s 230-year history’.

The members, which include rocker Mick Jagger and lyricist Tim Rice, will decide between the two rival options in September, following a series of consultations.

In a letter accompanying the review issued to members, it states that the review was commissioned after a request in 2015 from more than 120 members to the chief executive and secretary for a ’reassessment of all redevelopment and funding options open to the club’.

MCC chair Gerald Corbett said the review of the shortlisted plans by Populous and David Morley Architects was intended to be ‘as fair as possible’, adding that it is ’essential to ensure that the development of the ground is carried out in accordance with members’ wishes’. 

Both proposals involve rebuilding the Compton and Edrich stands in order to increase the overall capacity at the Lord’s ground by 2,000.

David Morley Architects’ concept, known as the Morley Plan and backed by Rifkind Associates, include a 37,63m² pavilion at the Nursery End of the ground; a new frontage and entrance along Wellington Road; and two blocks of 10 storeys with 97 flats. The flats will be used to generate funds to implement some of the practice’s plans. 

The firm proposes maintaining the Nursery Ground in its existing location, albeit reconfiguring it into a 9,220m² square area. 

Documents sent to members reveal that Rifkind Associates has offered the club a sum of £135 million to carry out the Morley Plan, with a further £15 million ‘disturbance payment’ being offered to cover the subscriptions of full members for a period of two years while some of the external works are carried out. 

Meanwhile, Populous’ plans, dubbed the Updated Masterplan, are effectively an updated version of the practice’s own 2013 masterplan and include redeveloping the Tavern and Allen Stands, and the Thomas Lord Suite.

Unlike the Morley plan, Populous proposes moving the Nursery Ground towards Wellington Road, one fifth of which will be on MCC leasehold land that expires in 2136. Populous proposals would be funded using MCC funds and supplemented through short-term borrowing. 

However, the practice’s proposals do not include a residential element, but the review states that this could be built near Wellington Road if desired, once the Compton and Edrich stands have completed.

According to the review, Populous’ Updated Masterplan could be completed by 2032, but would require short-term borrowings to do so, while the Morley Plan could be completed by 2034. 

Populous’ plans are effectively an updated version of its £80 million scheme at the ground, which received planning permission in 2015, and were rubberstamped by the then mayor Boris Johnson later that year. 

Populous also completed a separate scheme at the Lord’s earlier this year - its £21 million redevelopment of the 2,656-seater Warner Stand.

Populous was hired in 2012 to work on plans for Lord’s cricket ground, after the MCC discarded a £400 million masterplan for the ground by AHMM the year before. The club said it had resolved to ‘focus on developing Lord’s on a stand-by-stand basis, and on the Club’s freehold land only’.

The Stirling Prize-winning practice had itself been selected as a replacement for a previous £400 million masterplan by Herzog & de Meuron for the west London venue was shelved in 2011.

The original £400 million masterplan featured four residential blocks, a colonnade and new indoor academy, and would have allowed the club to expand its capacity, from the 28,000 at that time, to 33,000. 

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