ENTREPRENEURS are lining up to bring greyhound racing back to Oxford Stadium after city councillors rejected plans for 220 homes to be built on the site.
The Galliard Homes application for the Sandy Lane site was thrown out by the east area planning committee on Wednesday but the developer has not yet revealed if it plans to appeal.
Colin Cook, executive member for planning, said if Galliard does appeal, the matter would be likely to be dealt with by a planning inquiry staged at the town hall by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate.
Now Harry Findlay, Coventry Greyhound Racing promoter, can focus on the takeover and his general manager Bob Webb was at the planning committee on his behalf.
Mr Webb said Ireland-based Paschal Taggart, a former Irish Greyhound Board chairman, another potential bidder for the stadium, would “almost certainly” join Coventry Greyhound Racing for a bid rather than act as a rival bidder.
He added: “We are interested in doing a deal with Galliard but we will wait to see if there is an appeal and then wait for the outcome of an appeal before negotiations took place.”
“We would also like to bring back speedway.”
Save Oxford Stadium campaigners say they will continue to fight to bring back greyhound racing.
Mick Wheble, 64, from Kennington, who worked at the stadium for 30 years and promoted greyhound racing, said: “Oxford Stadium could be viable and profitable again as a greyhound stadium.
“I believe there is now a realistic chance of greyhound racing returning for Oxford.
“We’ve won the battle but perhaps not the war. If there is an appeal we’ll fight it.”
Mr Wheble added that campaigners were in touch with staff at Coventry greyhound stadium about the possibility of a bid to take over the stadium from Galliard Homes.
Councillors at the committee listed seven reasons for refusing Galliard’s application, as set out in an officer’s report that had recommended the scheme be rejected.
Agents acting for the developer told the town hall meeting that the house-builder would provide £800,000 for a dance and martial arts facility next to Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre, and £500,000 towards the cost of a footbridge across the railway line between the site and Cowley retail park.
But the first reason for refusal was the complete loss of all the community facilities, including “the buildings and infrastructure that support a venue of exceptional quality for both greyhound racing and for speedway, and spectators of these sports can be counted in their thousands across Oxford, the wider county and beyond”.
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith, who supported campaigners following the closure of the track in December 2012, said: “Of course the developers have the right to appeal but I would urge them not to. There is an overwhelmingly strong case against the proposals.”
Galliard declined to comment.