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The North East Local Enterprise Partnership Board has agreed to make available loan finance of up to £2.8m to support infrastructure projects at Durham County Cricket Club’s Chester-le-Street ground.

Whilst accessing the larger part of this rests on the club coming forward with a proposal for capital investment and loan repayment, the board agreed to release £1.2m from the LEP’s North East investment fund immediately as a loan to finance the completion of permanent seating at the cricket ground. The loan is expected to be repaid within seven years. The new seats will add to the capital value of the stadium as well as providing better seating and an undercroft area which can be developed to improve facilities and the retail offer at the ground.

Paul Woolston, chair of the North East LEP said: “We are delighted to announce that the North East LEP has allocated up to £2.8m from its investment fund in response to an application from Durham County Cricket Club.

“The initial £1.2m of funding means that new permanent seating can go ahead immediately at the Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground to complete the world-class stadium and facilities, confirming Durham as a first class location for international cricket. Durham is already recognised as the best and friendliest place to watch cricket in northern England. The stadium will now have a full complement of top quality seats in front of the magnificent backdrop of Lumley Castle.

“We look forward to the Ashes’ Test match this summer, and the other high profile international events which have already agreed to come to Durham between now and 2016. We need the ECB to demonstrate the same resolve that the LEP and Durham County Council have shown and now bring a full programme of the very best Test cricket to Durham right through to 2020 and beyond. Durham County Cricket Club is an important asset for the North East, and upgrading the Emirates Durham ICG stadium will attract global, national and local visitors to the area as part of the club’s business plan.

“The Partnership’s investment fund is worth nearly £60m. Just as we have been delighted to move quickly to get this finance in place so the new seats can be in place for the Ashes, so we want to get the LEP’s investment fund money to work right now in other ventures across the NE LEP area. We welcome enquiries from businesses and developers looking for loan finance to expand their operations, build new premises or undertake housing and industrial or commercial developments.”

Further information from Christine Holland, Holland PR & Marketing Ltd. Tel 01670 7790246 or 07711 698246

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