MP defends response to survey on future of stadium site

thisisoxfordshire: MP Andrew Smith with copies of his survey at the Oxford Stadium Buy this photo » MP Andrew Smith with copies of his survey at the Oxford Stadium

JUST one in eight households on Blackbird Leys responded to a survey to gauge the level of oppositon to the redevelopment of Oxford Stadium.

Developer Galliard Homes is hoping to build 225 homes on the greyhound stadium site in Sandy Lane.

A questionnaire was sent out to the 2,340 homes in Blackbird Leys by Oxford East MP Andrew Smith, who said he was committed to fighting any such planning application for the site.

He had responses from 273 homes, though the majority of those, 188, were against developing the ground.

Mr Smith said: “I sent a letter which included the survey to every house on the electoral register in Blackbird Leys.

“The response rate may not look massive, but it is significantly higher than you normally get for this sort of survey, as people have to take the trouble to fill it in and post it back.

“I am sure the responses I have received are representative of the community as a whole.”

He said of the stadium site: “This is a unique part of Oxford’s recreational history and if we lost it, we would never get it back.”

Mr Smith wanted to gauge local opinion ahead of any potential planning application.

Of 273 returned questionnaires, 188 were in favour of keeping it, while 60 people preferred using the land for housing and 25 were neutral.

Oxford Stadium was built in 1939 and greyhound racing has taken place there ever since, alongside Speedway until 2008.

Mr Smith, who lives in Blackbird Leys, said: “The feeling is that the owners want to build roughly 250 homes, which would be worth about £200,000 each. That’s £50m.

“If you imagine the build cost of the houses, it’s about half that. There’s £25m to be made and that is what is driving this.

“If someone wanted to build on the University Parks, there would be universal uproar because it is part of Oxford’s history. Why should there be different assumptions for our stadium?”

Sandy Lane resident Paul Hedges, who has lived opposite the stadium for 37 years, said: “Sandy Lane cannot take the traffic this will bring if it gets the go-ahead.”

A planning application for the stadium site has not yet been submitted but is expected within weeks.

No-one from Galliard Homes was yesterday available for comment.

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