Plans for barrier to stop cricket balls injuring pedestrians on Sidmouth seafront

Sidmouth cricket club's boundary. Ref shs 12-17TI 9208. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth cricket club's boundary. Ref shs 12-17TI 9208. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

The risk of serious injury - or even death - from cricket balls being hit onto Sidmouth seafront has prompted club bosses at The Fortfield to take action.

Sidmouth Cricket, Tennis and Croquet Club has submitted a planning application to tackle the ‘increasing incidence’ of balls leaving the historic ground’s southern perimeter.

It hopes to erect a ball-stop fence during the sporting season to ‘greatly reduce the danger’, while minimising the impact on the sensitive environment of the conservation area.

The plans say: “The increase in balls leaving the ground is a result of the changing nature of cricket, with players now required to score runs faster and able to use larger bats to hit higher and further.

“This has persuaded the Sidmouth Cricket, Tennis and Croquet Club that action is needed to mitigate against the possibility of serious injury or death.”


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A separate document adds: “While people and vehicles on The Esplanade and Bedford Lawn car park have been struck, to date there have only been minor injuries, the worst being a broken wrist.

“Sidmouth Cricket, Tennis and Croquet Club is keen to avert the possibility of more serious injuries by providing the best possible protection while minimising the impact on a sensitive environment.”

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The system would involve sinking concrete sleeves into the ground, while taking care not to compromise the ceilings of the premises below, including The Arches interpretation centre and the surf lifesaving club, or the public footpath at the ground’s perimeter.

The sleeves would be set at five-metre intervals and hold six-metre-high supports for black polypropylene netting, similar to the permanent chainlink fencing already on place on two sides of the ground.

The proposed supports are 80 millimetres wide – the smallest available, in order to minimise the visual impact.

The ball-stop fence would be in place from April to September and stored outside of the cricket season in a shed – six metres long, two metres high and 1.8 metres wide – which is also proposed in the planning application.

East Devon District Council will decide the fate of the proposals.

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