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MP Andrew Smith hits out over proposed stadium demolition
AN attempt to bring forward the demolition of Oxford Stadium has been labelled “crude” by a city MP.
Galliard Homes asked Oxford City Council if it needs permission to demolish the Blackbird Leys stadium, which closed in December.
The developer wants to put 225 homes on the Sandy Lane site after owners shut the 73-year-old stadium on financial grounds.
The council – which has a policy to support the site’s continued use as a greyhound stadium – says it does need its permission to demolish the stadium.
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said: “This application about demolition looks to me like a crude attempt to bounce the council.
“It just underlines how the present owners are only interested in trying to make a lot of money from their housing scheme, not maintaining the value of their asset as a stadium.
“I have been in touch with the council about this, and hope and expect that officers will rule that the application for housing, including any question of demolition, can only be determined when the overall application is in front of them.
“I am also confident that, given the planning designation of the site is for recreation and not housing and there is such strong community support for the stadium, that the whole scheme to demolish the stadium and build houses will be turned down.”
Council deputy leader Ed Turner said: “My view is that the council ought to be given a proper planning application which it can evaluate, and that it would be wrong and undemocratic for the council to have the rug pulled from under its feet by the demolition of the stadium.
“My understanding is that they will be told that they do need planning permission, and I welcome that.”
Andrew Raven, from Galliard’s planning agent Savills, said: “There is a process for demolition of certain buildings, and this application was the first stage in that process.
“The application was made to find out whether or not prior approval is needed for demolition, and we have heard back from the council that we do need permission.”
He said the firm was putting the finishing touches to its full planning application.
Save Oxford Stadium chairman Ian Sawyer said he was initially worried by the bid, but had been reassured by the council that the developer would need permission.
He said: “I’m more worried about the bigger picture, and what we need to do now is make sure we apply the pressure to make sure the council is true to its word in terms of refusing the planning application.”
The stadium closed on December 29 after the Greyhound Racing Association said it was no longer viable.