Entrepreneurs set to reopen stadium as homes bid rejected

thisisoxfordshire: Campaigners celebrate the decision at the Town Hall Campaigners celebrate the decision at the Town Hall

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.

Comments (3)

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8:14am Fri 10 Jan 14

Geoff Roberts says...

I suspect the government will override everything with this and other developments, such as the one proposed for Morris Motors. Further eroding the power of local authorities, eroding local democracy. Meanwhile the fat cats who run the government can enjoy their expensive houses in the countryside (or abroad) whilst the rest of us get squeezed together even more. Affordable housing is great but not when it actually destroys communities by cramming too many people into one space. It's a plot for developers and private landlords to make money.
I suspect the government will override everything with this and other developments, such as the one proposed for Morris Motors. Further eroding the power of local authorities, eroding local democracy. Meanwhile the fat cats who run the government can enjoy their expensive houses in the countryside (or abroad) whilst the rest of us get squeezed together even more. Affordable housing is great but not when it actually destroys communities by cramming too many people into one space. It's a plot for developers and private landlords to make money. Geoff Roberts
  • Score: 59

9:23am Fri 10 Jan 14

bishbosh says...

This is positive news as long as there is cross party support for its retention amongst councillors then it will happen. The venture capitalists who over borrowed to buy the GRA Stadia took Galliard as partners with one thing only in mind and that is to maximise the freehold value of the sites to pare down this debt. All their stadia are viable businesses but not viable enough for their financial needs. Portsmouth was sold at a premium and is now part of the massive Tipner regeneration. Wimbledon has been run down and is now subject to development speculation. Galliard would love to build hundreds of houses on the site but need to take into account leisure provision and have taken AFC Wimbledon as partners to build a football stadium and houses. Wimbledon FC sold their ground to developers and left the borough because crowds were too small. The other stadia have been put on short term leases with a long term view to sell eventually for development. It is refreshing to see Oxford Council pay heed to the needs of the local community and not sell out for S106 payments and increased council tax revenue. Greyhound racing is a viable business and the smaller locally owned tracks will testify to that. The GRA I am afraid have a different agenda.
This is positive news as long as there is cross party support for its retention amongst councillors then it will happen. The venture capitalists who over borrowed to buy the GRA Stadia took Galliard as partners with one thing only in mind and that is to maximise the freehold value of the sites to pare down this debt. All their stadia are viable businesses but not viable enough for their financial needs. Portsmouth was sold at a premium and is now part of the massive Tipner regeneration. Wimbledon has been run down and is now subject to development speculation. Galliard would love to build hundreds of houses on the site but need to take into account leisure provision and have taken AFC Wimbledon as partners to build a football stadium and houses. Wimbledon FC sold their ground to developers and left the borough because crowds were too small. The other stadia have been put on short term leases with a long term view to sell eventually for development. It is refreshing to see Oxford Council pay heed to the needs of the local community and not sell out for S106 payments and increased council tax revenue. Greyhound racing is a viable business and the smaller locally owned tracks will testify to that. The GRA I am afraid have a different agenda. bishbosh
  • Score: -96

10:13am Fri 10 Jan 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

I suspect that the property will remain closed up as non-performing asset for many years.

It's not unusual in Oxford. There is a commercial property at The Plain that has been empty for decades.
I suspect that the property will remain closed up as non-performing asset for many years. It's not unusual in Oxford. There is a commercial property at The Plain that has been empty for decades. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: -18

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