Up to six firms will be shortlisted for the scheme to build a new double-decker stand, improve the current “E” stand, and build a new cricket school and players and media facilities.
The work is scheduled to start in May despite the threat of a planning objection hanging over the entire £70m redevelopment plan.
Owners of the nearby White City retail park, Derwent Holdings, want a judicial review of Lancashire’s plans despite the scheme being approved the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Alan Burke of Lancashire’s partner Ask Developments said: “The claims made by Derwent Holdings are nonsensical.
“They have tried every available means to kill our plans and this is a desperate last gasp tactic. We find their significant delay in seeking a Judicial Review telling, revealing their true intent to de-rail our proposals rather than pursue a genuine grievance.
“Despite setting out their intention to seek a Judicial Review in March of this year. They have waited until the Christmas holiday period to do so. This is clearly a strategy designed to blow our plans out of the water.
“Over the summer, Derwent aggressively pressured the Secretary of State to ‘Call In’ our scheme for a public inquiry. He looked at it carefully over a considerable time and concluded they had no grounds to their demands.”
“Derwent know we are facing a demanding timetable for delivery – their tactics are designed to have the maximum possible disruption to our programme and delivery of our funding package. They hope we will fail so they can progress their own commercial agenda.
“We have a funding commitment towards our project of over £5m approved by the Northwest Regional Development Agency. The terms of that agreement dictate that we must be clear of any potential Judicial Review action by April 2011 or risk losing that money.
“Such an outcome would be a disaster for the Club, Trafford borough and the North West. The only factor putting this funding at risk is Derwent’s ongoing action. The very extensive delays we are incurring due to the very late nature of Derwent’s challenge is not only extremely frustrating but fundamentally jeopardising our ability to call down this vital funding.”
LCCC’s Chief Executive Jim Cumbes said: “Our plans have been the subject of thorough and detailed consultation. They have been debated exhaustively both locally and nationally. There was a remarkable number of letters of support from ordinary Trafford residents and cricket fans – more than 900, plus thousands of website pledges.
“We are pleased to confirm that we are on site and well underway implementing a perfectly lawful planning consent for the substantial re-development of Old Trafford. Derwent’s actions are a blatant attempt to force us to stop work. There is too much at stake for the club, Trafford and the wider North-west and we will not be bullied into stopping.”
A spokesman for Derwent Holdings Ltd said: “In view of pending legal action we are refraining from responding to the allegations made by Lancashire County Cricket Club.”
The current £32m phase of investment under way is to develop new pitches, stands, state of the art player and media facilities and an extension to the ground’s indoor cricket school and public areas.
Two new grandstands and a refurbished Pavilion will ensure a capacity of 15,000 capable of rising to 25,000 with temporary seating. There will also be floodlights and a screen showing action replays.
Contractors interested in the latest phase should contact [email protected]. Tenders must be received by January 21.